Women in Science. Africa
Women in Science.Africa is proud to celebrate Africa’s Women of Science, as part of our Women’s Month celebration in August 2020.
In a male dominated field, these heroines have risen head and shoulders above gender bias and claimed their position in the echelons of leadership within the academic, corporate and government circles.
We also present profiles of some of the women worth celebrating, with hindsight that there are hundreds more out there who are also equally engaged in remarkable work of science.
We say Africa is privileged to have such women of courage and dedication at an era where there is an upsurge in complicated diseases such as the coronavirus otherwise referred to as COVID-19.
African has never required healthcare workers more than the year 2020, when the continent is faced with a devastating pandemic that has put the continent’s inhabitants at stake. The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected economies, as fiscal budgets were revised, with a bulk of treasury focused on fighting the pandemic. It played havoc on medical staff at the frontline of the fight. Reports said in South Africa alone, over 500 healthcare workers had tested positive for COVID-19 while in Kenya the number was said to be about 250. The continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria, recorded the highest infection rate of medical staff at 800. In reports, the World Health Organisation gave credence to the fact that a majority of such healthcare workers are women, in the nursing profession.
Doubts on the accuracy of statistics in the infection as well as mortality rates have further warranted more robust data collection and dissemination tools, to assist in strategies employed to combat the scourge. Reports that health care workers were prosecuted in Egypt for revealing the acute shortage in personal protective equipment PPE as well as errors in computing the number of fatalities are disturbing.
The marauding virus has presented a clarion call on governments to increase budgets focused on increasing the enrolment of young women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
This issue of Women in Science in Africa comes a month later after the African Academy of Sciences published results of a study headlined “Factors which Contribute to or Inhibit Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in Africa.”
This report discussed a wide range of issues posing as a deterrent such as stereotypes, lack of enabling policy formulation patriarchal attitudes and other stumbling blocks that affected the choice of women to pursue and succeed in STEM.
It also correctly found that the success of women already working in STEM was highly influenced by the work environment—the recruitment process, promotion and gender relations played a great role in women’s success or failure in STEM.
We also draw readers’ attention to the significance of mentorship as a very necessary form of guidance for girls and youth who have interest in science but lack role models.
Prolific writer John C. Maxwell writes that “one of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”
This holds true of our academics who are devoting hours of their personal time to visit schools and forming concentrated groups to encourage youth to excel in science.
We wish all our women a happy month and encourage them to continue sharpening their knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.