Why Are So Few Women Leading African Science, Research?

Why Are So Few Women Leading African Science, Research?

Women do most of the work to produce most of the world’s food, but they are insufficiently integrated in livestock research, according to a Mail&Guardian report.

This presents a challenge to development, which in Africa is focused on modernizing agricultural production, since addressing the needs of female farmers requires increased participation by female scientists, professors, and senior managers, the report said.

A survey by the International Diversity Research Centre found that women are limited from moving into decision-making jobs because of organisational prejudices and practices including incentives and hiring systems that often work against them.

Female participation in African agricultural research was about 23 percent, with just 14 percent of management positions filled by women in 2007-2018. showing a decline as women progressed along their career path.

Better-performing countries with higher shares of female professional research staff included South Africa (32 percent), Mozambique (35 percent), and Botswana (41 percent).

Poor female representation of women was found in Ethiopia (6 percent), Togo (9 percent), Niger (10 percent), and Burkina Faso (12 percent), Mail&Guardian reports.

Of these women, almost 66 percent of the female professional staff in agricultural sciences worked for the government, 39 percent worked in higher education, and just 1 percent worked in non-profits.

There are efforts to change this, Mail&Guardian reports. A first-ever international research summit focused on gender is scheduled April 28-30 in Cape Town.

Topics will include how to increase female participation in science in Africa. The African Women in Agricultural Research and Development fellowship program hopes to fast-track careers of talented female African scientists with two-year fellowships to build mentoring and leadership among high-performing female African scientists at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels, according to Mail&Guardian.