Women’s Participation in Agricultural Research and Higher Education: Key Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa
Female farmers play a vital role in African agriculture, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of the agricultural workforce. However, agricultural research and higher education are disproportionately led by men.
There is an urgent need for a greater representation of women in the field of agricultural science and technology (S&T) in sub-Saharan Africa. Female scientists, professors and senior managers offer different insights and perspectives to help research institutes to more fully address the unique and pressing challenges of both female and male farmers in the region.
Gender-disaggregated data on S&T capacity are scarce, often lack sufficient detail, and focus more generally on S&T rather than on agriculture specifically. Data are not always comparable due to different methodologies and coverage. The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative and AWARD, a project of the CGIAR’s Gender & Diversity (G&D) Program, partnered together to address this information gap. This 2007/08 major benchmarking survey was conducted in 125 agricultural research and higher education agencies in 15 Sub-Saharan African countries.
This survey provided AWARD with baseline data, and was the first study in its kind to present detailed human resources data on African female participation in the agricultural sciences.
For a synopsis of the ASTI/AWARD study, visit: http://www.asti.cgiar.org/pdf/ASTI-AWARD-brief.pdf
For the full report and individual ASTI-AWARD Country Fact Sheets, visit: http://www.asti.cgiar.org/gender-capacity
For the latest ASTI news and information visit the ASTI blog
Repairing the leaky pipeline
Who are better placed than women scientists to address the needs of African women famers? Women’s contribution to food security is crucial, both in the field and in the laboratory.
Research clearly shows that the number of women enrolling in agricultural sciences is steadily increasing, but women researchers tend to drop out as they move up the career ladder. Termed the “leaky pipeline”, this phenomenon is generally attributed to traditional, male-dominated organizational dynamics, in additional to cultural barriers to women’s education and advancement.
Major constraints faced by women in science careers in Africa:
African agriculture cannot afford this bleeding of human capital, losing its corps of promising female researchers. African agricultural research institutes are in danger of missing the critical range of diverse perspectives necessary to develop appropriate technologies. The science, technology and innovation capacity of Africa would be strengthened through greater participation of its women.
Responding to the challenge
AWARD aims to significantly expand and strengthen the capacity of African women scientists, recognizing their vital contribution to science and research. Africa’s green revolution will come all the more quickly if we stop the wastage of human talent and bring women’s experience to the field and the laboratories. We need to speed up women’s career advancements in Africa now.