Meet Njeri Mwaniki, Founder of Zaidi STEM, Kenya

June 22, 2019


Njeri’s Bio

Njeri grew up on a flower farm in Limuru, Kenya. In 2001, she located with her parents to the USA, where she completed her high school in Chapel Hill, NC. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from North Carolina State University, and a Masters of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She currently works as an Information Scientist at Bayer supporting the North America Crop business. She is also the Founder of Zaidi-STEM, a non-profit based in North Carolina, US. Zaidi- means “more” in Swahili.  This organization focuses on advocating STEM for the girl child in Sub-Saharan Africa. Njeri and her team accomplishes this by matching high school students with professionals in STEM, for a mentoring program through the Zaidi-Curriculum. She is also a mother. She loves to dance and travel.

Why did I get into STEM?

Growing up in an immigrant family in the USA, I was exposed to many avenues in STEM that deviated from the traditional career paths of medicine and engineering. I was able to identify a niche that matched my love for science, agriculture and people while leveraging my cultural context.

What do you consider your greatest achievements?

I consider founding Zaidi-STEM my biggest achievement. Although we are a new organization, I acknowledge that every journey begins with one step.  It took a lot of courage for me to step out of my comfort zone, and to be open to the lessons that come from running a non-profit organization.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?

Being a woman of African descent in the Agricultural Biotechnology industry, I am often a minority.  There are a few women in this industry as agriculture is also not considered an attractive or prestigious STEM career.

What is your advice to budding women in STEM?

My advice to budding women in STEM would be summed in two words –  consistency and evolution. It’s important to allow yourself and your career to evolve, technology is changing STEM careers and offering a lot of niche careers. Leave space in your career development for evolution. I would also urge women to be consistent. In some instances, you may be the only woman at the table. Use this opportunity to bridge barriers and showcase the diversity women bring to a STEM dialogue.

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