Lawrencia Asabea Osei is a Guan from Ghana. She is a freelance Data Scientist, a part-time tutor in Mathematics at Beacon School, a part-time Asst. Accountant and a Research Methods Consultant & Co-founder of PALMAS Consultancy. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University for Development Studies, and a Master’s degree in Mathematical Sciences from African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) – Senegal. She also holds a Certificate in Business Management through the AIMS and ESMT Berlin Industry Immersion Program (AIMS-ESMT IIP) from AIMS South Africa. The idea of creating PALMAS Consultancy is attributed to the entrepreneurial mindset gained from the ESMT program.
Learning new skills is another aspect of Lawrencia. which got her into learning Web Development as a front-end developer. Her passion for helping young girls in STEM-related fields led her to join Developers in Vogue (DIV) as a volunteer.
When she is not learning something new or coding, she finds herself listening to music or decorating.
Why did you get into STEM?
I must say that from my childhood, I have not been a fan of mathematics but science. This is not because I didn’t understand the concepts of mathematics but because I heard others say mathematics is difficult and that math teachers are wicked. With these reasons, it never crossed my mind to dedicate time for mathematics until I had an opportunity to enrol in Nifa Senior High School.
The early days of my high school as a science student weren’t that interesting because all my subjects had something to do with mathematics, which got me scared. One faithful day, I was lost in thought, wondering why I never paid attention to mathematics even though it always found its way to follow me everywhere I went. It was on that same day that I decided that since I disliked it but it kept following me then am going to consider every concept in mathematics as important. I was going to consider it as simple as adding 1 to 1 which always gave me 2. It was this mindset and passion that helped me to succeed in my journey with mathematics.
My journey in mathematics keeps progressing because it opens up several opportunities for me and helps develop my problem-solving skills.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
Being able to stand tall in mostly men-dominated fields has been one of my greatest achievements. Also, during my Master’s degree in Senegal, I felt like I had never studied mathematics in my life because each day came with its own challenges. And to worsen matters, my francophone colleagues were way ahead of my anglophone colleagues in theoretical mathematics, but in all God was faithful and everything ended in praise.
Again, due to continuous learning to bridge the gap in IoT, I found myself fitting into any sector or organization even if their priority was not mathematics.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
As humans, we can never run away from challenges since they help us to really go through each face of life. My first overcoming power was a change of mindset and not being carried away by the words of the crowd.
Though I entered university with my mind made up, I became anxious from the impressions people gave when I told them I was pursuing a STEM-related field. But I couldn’t fail my family because they believed in me – especially my mother. That helped me to regain my confidence and to believe in my capabilities.
Another challenge I faced was with getting employed as a female in STEM and also as a mathematician and a techie. Once you mention mathematics as a degree, no one listens to the other skills you possess but concludes swiftly that you need to go and teach. I can conclude that the relevance of mathematics is not known in my country of origin but I had to strive further. This landed me in South Africa where I studied the application of mathematics in the industry. This was an awesome experience and it has helped me close the gap of unemployment. It has also inculcated an entrepreneurship spirit in me to come up with something new to create employment and to not always wait for others to employ me.
Lastly, I never stayed home idle but kept learning new skills and volunteering in several activities. This is because of the give-back spirit inculcated in me during my studies at AIMS. This also keeps me productive.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
Venturing into STEM as a woman comes with a lot of challenges. But know that challenges come to help you grow. Discouragement from peers and others will come along the path but try to remain focused.
Choose your course wisely, learn, grow and keep learning. Learning continuously, asking questions and practising will help you master your game and be on top of all your tasks.
Reach out to people in your field. It’s discouraging sometimes, but keep reaching out and you will find that angel to push you up. Build a network of friends who will encourage and pray with you.
Never look down on yourself and know that you are worth a million and will someday make an impact in Africa and the world as a whole.