It is widely believed that science is an all “male affair”. In fact, a walk through the science departments of most colleges or universities in Cameroon could convince you that girls don’t exist.
This is because girls are stereotypically considered weak in sciences. But in recent times, many young girls are challenging the myth about girls and science and doing it so well. 25-year-old Ettamba Agborndip, a medical doctor and fellow of the Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa, is one such lady challenging such stereotypes.
Dr Ettamba has been practicing now for 14 months since her excellent results from the Medical school at Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Cameroon. She told me in a late night WhatsApp chat that, “anyone can excel in the sciences regardless of their gender”.
Ettamba’s vision is to inspire women and young girls to make informed health decisions by educating them about the common pathologies affecting our communities.
What is the greatest feat of being a doctor?
A lot of personal time is consumed depending on the kind of patients you have in the wards.
Sometimes, I end up spending 24 hours in the hospital because I have an unstable patient and I cannot be at peace at home.
Did you encounter any challenge during the pursuit in becoming a doctor?
The whole process of becoming a doctor is a challenge.
From the long hours in class, to late hospital hours and sometimes gruesome ward rounds, to having to miss out on family events. But so far, I don’t have any regrets about being a doctor.
How did it feel when you received your medical degree?
It was an emotional day for me. I was happy to have conquered those 7 years, the look of pride and fulfillment on my parent’s face was priceless, and I was happy to have made my teacher’s proud.
I wouldn’t be where I am without my teachers.
Girls are stereotypically considered to be weak in science. How did you break that?
I went to an all-girls school so I did not get to experience that stereotype.
However, I do believe that anyone can excel in the sciences regardless of their gender. It’s all about passion, hard work and determination.
What advice can you give to young girls on challenging the myth about science being a guys thing?
I would advise young girls to believe in themselves and work hard. It always helps to get orientation about your desired field so as to better prepare yourself for the task ahead.
Secondly, I’ll advise them to equally have a mentor who can hold their hands and guide them especially when it gets difficult.
Did you have another career goal apart from being a doctor?
I have always wanted to be a doctor.
At some point engineering was tempting, but medicine has always been my passion.
What do you love about your job?
I love fact that we actually save people’s lives. There’s no amount of money which can replace the fulfillment you get when a patient says; “thank you doctor”.
It means the world. The sad thing about being a doctor is that you can’t save them all. Some patients don’t make it and it’s a fact that we must live with.
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