WITH calls for the gender gap in STEM to be obliterated gaining momentum, Sub-Saharan (SSA) female scientists are still vastly underrepresented on the continent. Despite women holding the highest percentage of the world’s BA and Masters Degrees, only between 28% and 30% of females are currently employed as researchers. However, the process is slowly gaining ground and strides towards rectifying the situation had proved successful.
Since 2011, employment of female scientists had increased across the African continent with South Africa, Nigeria and Ethiopia opting to change the status quo, but in most instances many highly talented and skilled young women are still kept in junior positions, missing out on opportunities which would allow them to make decisions and lead. Male scientists are still comfortably ensconced in the hierarchy.
Programmes such as the UNESCO STEM and the Gender Advancement project are aiming to change this and a regularly updated index system, run by the UNESCO STEM, keeps track of female appointments which shatter the so called glass ceiling. To date, Africa had held two successful gender summits (one in South Africa) and a special awards platform had been created to honour their contribution in STEM. Various mentorship programmes had vastly contributed to assisting rising African female scientists. This had seen the empowerment so necessary to ensure Africa does not lose its valuable female scientific talent.