Study sheds light on what it takes for women to pass science in Africa – whether or not –

Women are 49.6% of the world’s population. It is estimated that 70% of health and social care staff are women; they take care of about 5 billion people. Women are also at the forefront of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic – as healthcare providers, researchers, scientists and policy makers.

There is a recognized gender difference in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It asked the Alliance for Accelerate excellence in science in Africa) to study about factors that contribute to hindering women’s careers in these key fields in Africa.

The study highlighted the numerous factors that contribute to the success of women in this field. It also investigated how they reinforce each other. Understanding what these factors are and how they work is crucial to working out the multiple approach needed to address these challenges.

This is the first overview of its kind that gives an African perspective of the challenges women face in these fields. They were by no means unique to Africa. What we do find significant is the strong influence in film models, mentorship and family support in Africa on the movement of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The study

Our study focused on research institutions in Africa eight local economic communities recognized by the African Union. Particular focus was placed on institutions with which the African Academy of Sciences collaborates and their networks with other programs that support women in research. Respondents included women studying or studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Policy experts in Africa are also included.

More than 1,200 emails were sent to various institutions and 415 female scientists registered for the online survey. Of these, 396 (95.4%) completed the questionnaire identifying factors that contribute to or hinder women’s careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Africa. It specifically identified the challenges and opportunities that respondents faced or faced in their own careers. A face-to-face validation workshop was presented with a subset of female scientists.

The study showed that the success of women in these key fields was influenced by individual, family, social and work environment factors. It included personal abilities and academic preparation. Access to finance and having female role models also emerged as factors. Patriarchal attitudes at the macro level were the most important. For women already working in these areas, the work environment and recruitment process, promotion and gender relations were a major influence. Policies to address the gender gap allegedly existed but were rarely implemented.


We study found that seeing other women working in these disciplines was an important factor in influencing their choice of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Girls from families with female professionals were motivated to follow their lead. Other successful women scientists have also acted as role models for younger women.

We found that 78% of the women had family support, 7% of the families were not supportive and only 2.4% were very negative. This suggests that personal abilities or lack of family support do not hinder the success of women in these areas.

More than two-thirds of all respondents agreed that patriarchal attitudes are important. Discrimination against women in gaining decision-making positions, hegemonic masculinity perpetuated by socio-cultural values ​​and beliefs affect women’s ability to succeed. So too organizational perceptions of gender inequality among men and women.

Nearly 80% reported that women faced barriers in the work environment that men did not have, and that 63% had to continually prove that they were as capable as men.

Policies to address the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics do exist. But it is seldom implemented and where it is, many reflect society’s underestimation of women in the workplace.

The implementation of this policy must be supported by laws to ensure proper representation. Achieving parity (50:50 ratio between woman and man) is important to balance and increase the number of women while promoting equity. It refers to the fairness of the treatment of women and men and also takes into account the different gender needs, obligations and opportunities.

The findings were also that recruitment and promotion practices and gender relations at work play a major role in determining women’s success. Although 90% of respondents agree that they are recruited on merit, only about 57% said that they are adequately rewarded based on their qualifications. They also had fewer career opportunities than men.

Next steps

A gender lens is definitely important to the Sustainable development goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030. It is just as important to reach the African Union’s agenda for peace and prosperity on the continent. teen 2063. The African Academy of Sciences has a vision to transform African lives through science. Our study highlights the importance of role modeling to increase the visibility and expert voice of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. None of these goals can be achieved if women, who are half the population, are left out.

Although it may take some time to change social factors affecting the ability of African women to succeed in this field and to make their voices heard, such a change will not take place without deliberate intervention. Efforts such as these, which raise awareness about scientific analyzes by women and the visibility of women in these fields, should be encouraged. A joint effort to & quot; the podium & quot; fair would be a first step in taking advantage of the much-needed diversity of perspectives.

AESA is a partnership of the African Academy of Sciences and the African Union Development Agency. The study was supported by IAVI.

Allen Muyaama Mukhwana, Research Systems Manager, African Academy of Sciences and Judy Omumbo, Senior Program Manager, Postdoctoral Programs, African Academy of Sciences


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