The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Representative to Ghana, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo said girls and women must be told their place is in boardrooms and science and not the kitchen.
He made the statement on the occasion of the 2020 United Nations Day for Women and Girls in Science under the theme ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for inclusive Green Growth,’ held at the ISSER Conference Centre, University of Ghana, Legon on Wednesday, 12th February.
According to data from UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and approximately 30% of all female students select Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related fields in higher education.
There is therefore the need to adopt strategies to address this inequality and to help drive girls and women into science related fields with the right message, he said.
“Instead of telling girls and women that their place is in the kitchen, let us tell them that their place is in Science and boardrooms,” UNESCO Representative to Ghana, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo said to a resounding round of applause.
Globally, female students’ enrollment is particularly low in ICT (3%), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%), and engineering, manufacturing and construction (8%).
In Ghana, the statistics have not been different with female participation in science related courses low at all levels of the school system.
Mr. Diallo added, “Telling girls and women that their place is in science and at the decision-making level should not be a mere rhetoric but should be backed by directed efforts to guide and encourage them to take up science courses in schools and to pursue science careers.”
He said it will take a concerted effort by all stakeholders and support from males to turn the statistic around and suggested investment in capacity building programmes for science teachers that seeks to make science teaching female friendly, implementing programmes that seek to encourage girls to overcome stereotypes, among others.
It will be recalled that Dr. Priscilla Kolibea Mante, a Lecture and Research Scientist at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology specializing in neuropharmacology and neuroscience was a recipient of the L’Oréal UNESCO Regional Fellowship award in 2018.
Meanwhile, resource persons spanning various spectrums of life and fields brought their experiences to bare on the discussion to the benefit of the younger generation of female science students.
Hosting a panel discussion, celebrated Ghanaian biomedical engineer and National Maths and Science Quiz mistress Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann and her guests discussed the importance of investing in women and girls in science while fielding questions from the audience.
On a day set aside by the UN to celebrate women and girls, the speakers on the day including Ms. Janet L. Butler, a mechanical engineer who worked for 23 years for P&G, the Deputy Minister of Environment Science Technologyand Innovation (MESTI), Hon. Mrs. Patricia Appiagyei (MP), Mrs. Ama Serwah Nerquaye-Tetteh, UNESCO Secretary-General, Edem Mahu,Geochemistry Department of Marine & Fisheries Science, Dr Yvonne S. A. Loh, Earth Science Department, University of Ghana, Legon and Ms. Adelaide Asantewaa Asante, a former Director for STI at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, brought their experiences to bear on the theme for the occasion.
The 5th of its kind event in Ghana, the celebration was organised by the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) Ghana in collaboration with the STMIE Unit of the Ghana Education service Greater Accra with support from the UNESCO Office in Accra and College of Basic and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana Legon Accra.
The event brought together female students drawn from 8 selected second cycle schools in the capital, participants from the academia, UG, Corporate Ghana.