Naledi Pandor, the South Africa minister for science and technology has called for gender evaluation in science education to see what is causing low science enrolment among women in higher institutions of learning.
“Let us insert a gender eye,” she advised during the Who will do 21 Century Science: International Perspective from Women in science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics STEM Igniting Conferences Start- Ups in the Middle East and Africa session at the World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco, California last week.
The conference with the theme Bridging Science and Societies brought in science journalists from across the globe
Naledi urged that the science discipline in the 21 century had to include women and black people, else the world will continue missing out on talent and it does not make sense to me.
“In South Africa, women and black people must be part, “she said.
She explained that her government had taken initiatives to increase the number of women in science disciplines by establishment of a women’s research program.
Naledi called for establishment of quality laboratories and infrastructure, and better pay for scientists to attract them to come and do research in Africa rather that the few on the continent leaving and doing research outside because there is no infrastructure and of poor pay.
She gave the example of the Southern Africa Large Telescope.
Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordon, the president Royal Scientific Society, another discussant called science the vehicle of hope because of its ability to solve societal problems.
The blame of low levels of women scientists was placed on the dominance of male staff at professorship level, culture issues, lack of models and mentors and poor media profiling of successful women scientists.
Both countries have taken lead in their respective regions to advance science. South Africa has an annual Science Forum while Jordon is holding the World Science Forum 2017 in November.
According to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, women account for less than 30% of the world’s researchers.