Raïssa Malu’s Bio
Raïssa Malu is a physicist, by training, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. After working as a research assistant and computer scientist in the banking sector and as a professor in higher education, she founded her school coaching company in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Belgium. She is a writer and publisher of science and mathematics textbooks, an international education consultant, and a speaker. Since 2016, she has been coordinating a project within the Congolese Ministry of Education to improve science and mathematics education in secondary and higher education.
Why did you get into STEM?
I chose physics because I can only understand the world through the fundamental laws of nature, and the language of mathematics seems to be the most appropriate language for understanding nature.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
My greatest acheivement is undoubtedly the Science and Technology Week (www.semainedelasciencerdc.org) that our association, Investing In People, organizes every year (since 2014) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the Congolese Ministry of Education. This is wonderful because this event gives us the opportunity to discover, better our country and appreciate what seems to be its greatest wealth – its young people, its women and men. We allow the public to discover STEM and we contribute to increase confidence in our abilities to succeed in these areas.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge as a woman in STEM is to no longer cause fear. That’s why I keep saying that science is fun and you should join us. It is time for men and women to understand that it is no longer strange to see women in STEM. We have suffered enough from stereotypes. It is time to see reality in front of us. We are here to succeed – no more low profile.
The second challenge is to convince the private sector in Africa to invest in STEM and to invest in research and development. In this regard, I share the opinion of the Director of the Next Einstein Forum, Nathalie Munyapenda. We need innovative ways of financing research in Africa. We must develop the venture capital here. In the DRC, one of Africa’s Francophone countries, the task may be even more difficult. Fortunately, we think we are about to do so thanks to the Next Einstein Forum.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
When I work with my students (girls) in STEM and other areas, I see that what is most restraining them is self-confidence. They need to be reassured, to see that other women have gone through the same experiences (good or bad). I repeat to them that success is first and foremost a matter of self-confidence (and trust in the laws of the universe). What I say is: “Miss, you are not alone. We are here – women and men – for you. You do not have to do it alone. Take inspiration from our experience to do better than us so that we will all grow up”.