Forum to Intensify and Accelerate Efforts to Address Universal Systemic Inequalities Around Women’s Underrepresentation in Science

Dakar, Senegal, July 18, 2019 – The Global Forum on Women in Scientific Research (GoFoWiSeR) is convening more than 300 participants to discuss the trends and strategies toward increasing the numbers and experiences of women in science. The participants comprising seasonal and emerging women scientists, leaders of research institutions, research funders, and other stakeholders will highlight progress made and the pathways for sustaining approaches to bridge the gender divide in science.

One of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 5 is to ensure full and effective participation of women in political, economic, and public life. Research is a crucial driver of political, economic and public development and with empirical evidence indicating that less than 30 percent of the world’s researchers are women, there is an urgent need to pay attention on how to bridge the glaring gender gap.

Recognizing 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. Through its support to initiatives such as the Athena SWAN, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) continues to support women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (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, and it is now urgent to intensify and scale-up. What lessons have these actors, and others, amassed over the years? How can these be institutionalized? 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 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.

“At the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution, this momentum is important to remobilize women, prepare our young girls to take ownership of these emerging technologies and engage in Africa, a productive dialogue to build a culture of science and technology-based on innovation” Notes Professor Yaye Kene Gassama, Chair of African Union High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET).

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.

GoFoWiSeR is supported by a consortium led by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and includes the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK Department of International Development (DFID) the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund of the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), Canada’s International Development Research Centre, and South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF).