Confronting the societal bias against women in science

Confronting the societal bias against women in science

Conformity to traditional cultural beliefs and societal expectations have contributed significantly to gender gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM fields in Africa, according to a new study conducted by the Nairobi-based African Academy of Sciences. The recently published study, Factors which Contribute to or Inhibit Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in Africa, highlights how social environment, gender discrimination and girls’ low self-assessment have being powerful barriers that prevent African women and girls from increasing their representation in STEM careers. So far, women account for 31.3% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s researchers. According to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a collaborator of the African Academy of Sciences, Africa is off-target in the global aspiration of empowering women and girls. According to Allen Mukhwana, research systems manager at the African Academy of Sciences, the lower number of women in research in Africa is reflected in their participation in university education. Datasets from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) indicate that some of...
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From Arts to Science: The STEM story of Ruth Akello

From Arts to Science: The STEM story of Ruth Akello

This is an extraordinary story, from an extraordinary girl. This is the story of Akello Ruth. Where do we start? Okay, 2014. If you asked Ruth in 2014 whether she would be a midwife, she would have told you no. But this is 2020. And she is a midwife and an essential worker, during these Covid-19 pandemic.When Ruth was in secondary school, she didn't quite know which career option to take. Ruth was good in arts subjects, but was also passionate about ICT & coding. In A-level, she was team leader of the Science & Technology Innovations Club (STIC), and admired to study IT related course at Uni. In fact she did HLD subject combination in A-level. Throughout her A-level she lead the club, participated and represented the school in many STEM competitions. These include:2015: Taking part in MTN App Challenge2015: Participated in Technovation Challenge2015: Participated in Annual Communications Innovations Awards (ACIA)2014: Participated in Science & Technology Innovation Challenge (Robotics)2014:...
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Government admission 2020: teachers and parents should encourage girls to enrol for science courses

Government admission 2020: teachers and parents should encourage girls to enrol for science courses

In Uganda, the idea that the student with the best grade is the one that gets awarded a scholarship to a university is a very “big weight’’ on the scale of inequality in our education system. It does not only limit poor and yet bright but disadvantaged students from achieving their dreams, but also has a net result that the graduates from the universities are possibly not so passionate about the work they will be doing because they pursued the course just because they had the grades but not because they loved the course. Nevertheless, anyone who qualifies through a given criteria should get the reward for it! This year as usual, we have seen more male students awarded science courses (as from Mbarara University of Science and Technology enrolment) as compared to their female counterparts who had a greater enrolment to Arts/humanity courses (as from Makerere University Business School enrolment), this means that females are still unaware of their potentials...
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Norman Ajwer is excelling in both STEM and Humanities

Norman Ajwer is excelling in both STEM and Humanities

This is Norman's story. Norman Ajwer works as a presenter & talk-show host at 97.7 Unity FM radio in Lira. He is also a student at St. Mary's Hospital Lacor Nursing School in Lacor, in Gulu. Before that, Norman went to Lira Town College, from were he was an active student leader & was a recipient of the prestigious BBC ICON Challenge award which honours the best secondary school journalists for excellence in print & broadcast mass media. Surprisingly, Norman is also author of Forceful Arrivals- a book that relays his experience during the LRA war in northern Uganda. Additionally, Norman writes movie & drama scripts, which further embeds him into the arts/humanities domain.When we talk about science, we need not undermine the humanities domain, because these two distinct domains complement one another. He is a good example of how one can easily juggle careers in both the arts/humanities & STEM domains. He is keen on finishing his Nursing course,...
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STEM, STEAM, or STREAM – What is better for schools and students?

STEM, STEAM, or STREAM – What is better for schools and students?

There are now several initiatives aimed at increasing the enrolment of students into science, both in secondary schools, universities, and other tertiary and vocational education institutions. It is important to point out that the gender imbalance in the science subsector is very visible in schools, starting in A-level, where subjects are all elective. It should be noted that since 2004, the government of Uganda made core science subjects compulsory in O-level. These subjects include Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Before this, only Mathematics and English was compulsory. It is now 16 years since that science-centric policy change, but little has been changed. The demand for science graduates continues to grow with the economy, yet the failure rate amongst science subjects continues unhindered, with worse subject being biology.  The number of girls in A-level studying science subjects is very low, most choosing to do Literature in English, History, Entrepreneurship and CRE. Despite this small number of students doing sciences, a much smaller number...
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