I got to know Maame through LinkedIn after part of her story was posted in a group called Girls in Science and Technology – GIST, based in Takoradi, Ghana. I believe her story will be as inspiring to someone as it was to me. Here is our interview about her STEM journey:
Hi Maame, thank you for joining us today. We are happy to host you on Words That Count
Hi Winnie. I think this is a beautiful initiative you have taken and I am honoured to contribute in whichever way I can.
Briefly introduce yourself to our audience please
My name is Maame Yaa Abrafi Awuah from Ghana. I am currently working as an Operations Engineer at Ghana National Gas Company.
How did you join the oil and gas industry?
I have always known that I wanted a career in STEM but the confusion was in what to specialise in. The environment I grew up in socialised me to think that any intelligent girl would do well in the medical field. So, although I did not have an interest in medicine, I was determined to take that path. Long story short, I got rejected in all four medical schools that I applied to, haha. That was when I decided to pursue a degree in Petrochemical Engineering, which happened to be my second choice.
Interestingly, I had no knowledge of the course prior to pursuing it. I only chose it based on advice from a family friend. I am glad I pursued Petrochemical Engineering though because it feels like I was meant to do this. I got to pursue my masters in Chemical Engineering in Cranfield University, UK, right after completing my service at KITE, an energy consultancy in Ghana. After my masters, I returned to Ghana to start working as a gas dispatcher at West Coast Gas Company. Currently, I am at Ghana National Gas Company, working as an operations engineer.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
One major challenge I faced at the start of my career journey was finding the right mentors, female mentors especially, in my field to guide me. This situation is gradually getting better as I am widening my network through the opportunities that my work and education give me.
Another challenge is with misinterpreting the chivalry of my male colleagues as them perceiving me as weak. This is really something I battle with, especially when I am asked to sit out some tasks so that “the boys handle it.” Studying for a role in engineering is also challenging, just as studying for anything else is, however, with a lot of determination, diligence and the right support, it is achievable.
What has inspired you to move forward?
The knowledge that I can make an impact with my career inspires me to move forward. I know that by showing up to work every day and putting in my all, I am directly or indirectly making someone’s life easier.
Who are you outside work?
I am more of a home buddy. So outside work, I am at home watching movies, talking to my family and friends or practising my new hobbies, ie, French and the guitar.
What’s your favorite quote?
One of my favourite quotes is from the Bible and it says; “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline”.
Please encourage a young girl who wants to venture into Petrochemical Engineering
I would encourage any girl in STEM to just continue showing up every single day as she journeys along her career path. It will not always be easy and there may be days that she feels lost and sees no way forward. That is normal. Even those at the top get confused too. Nonetheless, the true over-comers are those who show up even when they have no reason to. Eventually, everything will make sense.
Thank you, Maame! You have reminded me of a friend who emphasises the point of “showing up everyday”. It is wonderful to speak to like minded people; there;s always a lot to learn. For this session, thank you for showing up.