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How to Close the Gender Gap in African STEM

Women scientists have a vital part to play in scientific leadership and in contributing to Africa’s development and transformation. But they remain substantially under-represented in higher education. Happily, there have been some improvements in recent years. Between 2011 and 2013, for instance, there was an increase in the percentage of women researchers in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Cameroon and Ethiopia. The UNESCO STEM And Gender Advancement project is one. It keeps track of gender data and supports the design and implementation of science, technology, and innovation policy instruments that affect gender equality. To track and monitor women’s representation, the African Development Bank’s gender equality index captures progress on the appointment of women to posts of responsibility. The Boardroom Africa helps organisations benefit from diversity by placing women directors and shifting the boardroom gender balance. The Gender Summit Africa platform provides evidence of when, why, and how biological differences (sex) and sociocultural differences (gender) affect outcomes. The African Union Kwame Nkrumah Awards for Scientific Excellence Programme honours two outstanding African women scientists from each of Africa’s five geographical regions.