Senegal will host a global convening that will mobilize actors to bridge the gender divide in science.
The Global Forum on Women in Scientific Research (GoFoWiSeR) scheduled for July 18 and 19, 2019 in Dakar, Senegal, will discuss the trends and strategies toward increasing the numbers and experiences of women in science.
One of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal five is to ensure full and effective participation of women in political, economic and public life. Research is a key driver of political, economic and public development and with empirical evidence indicating that less than 30 per cent of the world’s researchers are women, there is an urgent need to pay attention on how to bridge the glaring gender gap.
Recognising the missed opportunities resulting from leaving women behind, several initiatives are investing in building a sustainable pipeline of outstanding women scientists and leaders. African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) for instance has, over the last decade, worked to strengthen the leadership skills of women in agricultural research.
More than 500 women scientists from 24 countries have benefited from its flagship Fellowship initiative. The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) is equally investing in programmes that seek to strengthen the Science, Technology and Innovation capacity in Africa. Through its Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa programme AAS is developing world-class researchers and scientific leaders.
Through its support to initiatives such as the Athena SWAN, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) continues to support women in STEM. Other women-focused initiatives include the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) among others.
While these efforts are significant, they certainly are not enough. It is imperative they are intensified and scaled up. What lessons have these actors, and others, amassed over the years? How can these be institutionalised? Who are the other actors working in similar spaces toward similar objectives? What is not working and needs to be dropped? Who is not in this space but is a critical player?
The Forum will bring together seasonal and emerging women scientist, leaders of research institutions, research funders, and other stakeholders to answer these questions. The over 200 participants expected at the July convening will highlight progress made and the pathways for sustaining approaches to bridge the gender divide in science.
The two-day meeting will explore essential modifications that must be made to contextualize approaches for improving the numbers and experiences of women in science. The program is organized into several sessions that will address three major themes: Investing in women’s skills and networks; sustainable career pathways; the role of institutions and research funders in addressing systemic inequalities.
The Forum is jointly supported by a consortium led by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK Department of International Development (DFID), Carnegie Corporation of the New York and South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF).
The Forum will provide valuable opportunity to catalyze new connections and strengthen the network of actors and advocates working to increase the number of women in scientific research.
Image Credits: AWARD