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Applying the Gender Lens to Scientific Research

By Lessah Mandoloma, 2014 AWARD Fellow, Malawi

"Attending the Global Research Council Policy Conference in India was a life altering experience. The excitement and challenges it presented changed my view point about a lot of things in science. The theme of the conference was 'Exploring practical approaches to applying the gender lens in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Africa.

The theme was insightful and it induced sound deliberations on issues related to gender responsive research. It established the need for practical approaches that will include gender in science, technology and innovation in Africa. Being part of this conversation was very memorable for me. I am now conversant with the emerging issues surrounding science and am able to apply them to my research on ecotourism.

While at the conference, I made a presentation on 'Actionable Approaches to Support Young Scientists: Exploring the Experiences, Needs and Concerns'. My presentation focused on the role of young scientists in development research and innovations and their contribution in developing solutions for national and global challenges. I believe that allowing young scientists to share their experiences influences policy decision making and contributes to attaining a developed scientific capacity in Africa.

The presentation also highlighted some of the challenges budding scientists face such as limited professional development opportunities and institutional support, culture and gender complexities and inadequate mentoring opportunities.

Citing my own experiences as an AWARD Fellow, I presented the opportunities I have had as solutions that can be adopted to resolve the challenges. For instance, my mentorship experience taught me to be innovative, understand myself and my capabilities," says Mandoloma.