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Getting Women Up the Academic Ladder

In many African countries there are gender gaps when it comes to women enrolling in, and completing, their PhD studies. This subsequently affects their recruitment into university teaching and research positions. Women make up just just 30% of the Africa’s researchers. There are various reasons for this. For instance, a study covering several African countries found that barriers include sexual harassment, a lack of mentors – with some male faculty mentors being unwilling to act as mentors for junior women – and difficulty finding a balance between career and family. A study by the African Academy of Sciences reported similar challenges faced by women scholars in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. It found that the success of women already working in STEM was highly influenced by the work environment, the recruitment process and gender relations. More has to be done to help women overcome gender-based challenges. To support postgraduates in further education, several initiatives offer PhD fellowships – a merit-based scholarship – in Africa.