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Rwanda to host review of Africa's gender gap in STEM

Rwanda to host review of Africa's gender gap in STEM

The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) initiative has revealed that it will announce the findings of its newly launched survey on the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education and research from Kigali in March during the 2018 leg of its Global Gathering conference.

Nathalie Munyampenda, Managing Director at the NEF says the choice of Rwanda, which is reputed for its achievements in gender equality was influenced by the country’s record in advancing gender parity. Rwanda’s recent successes saw President Paul Kagame being awarded an AU prize for the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality in July 2016.

“In general, we are invited by the government of the country to host the NEF Global Gathering in their country. For Rwanda, President Paul Kagame invited us to host the 2018 edition in Rwanda. We are very much encouraged by the country's deliberate action to improve the representation and participation of women in all sectors. The country gains from having 1500 people fly in and stay for a few days as well as securing possible funding for their own strategic areas of research and collaborations with top level scientists to support their current needs and future ambitions. “

Munyampenda adds that the survey results will be used to compile a report and White Paper to be presented at the NEF Global Gathering in the country’s capital. Only Africans can take part in the survey whose questions will focus on their academic journey and work experience including the opportunities and barriers they faced along the way.

“We launched the survey as a way to gather baseline data. There has not been comprehensive research on this (gender inequality in STEM) and the NEF survey hopes to get a snapshot that will lead to longer research on the topic. There has been some work done to discuss the gaps and why there is a gap but we wanted to some data points to start the discussion. We are planning to continue research in this area post the NEF Global Gathering.”, details Munyampenda who also indicateS that she believes the next Einstein can be African due to demographics nd if the right investments are made now.

Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) who also serves as Chairman of the NEF which AIMS runs in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung agrees that the survey results can serve as a good starting point for increased participation by women and girls in STEM.

"The NEF and our AIMS Women in STEM (AIMSWIS) Initiative are committed to promoting scientific excellence and gender equity. We believe the two go hand in hand, improving scientific output and outcomes. We have launched this survey to get a better understanding of what barriers exist and what best practices can be adopted organically to advance gender equity in STEM education and research on our continent,"

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