BY: AMMA BIRAGO KANTANKA GYIMAH
PhD Student, Doctoral Research Programme, Climate Change and Education WASCAL – University of the Gambia
On the occasion of the International Day for Women and Girls in science, I add my voice to the many and advocate for inclusivity, equity and fairness.
Gender imbalance in science presents itself in various forms; key among which are disparities in recruitment and remuneration. The preference for recruitment is mostly for the male gender due to gender stereotyping and what is mostly referred to as the ‘maternal wall’ where women are expected to give birth along the way and therefore will not be able to perform their duties. It is even shocking to see that for the same position with the same job description, women are in some cases paid lower than their male counterparts. This is a real disincentive which draws back society’s ability to draw and benefit from the expertise of women in the area of science.
In an era where gender mainstreaming is heralded everywhere, these disparities are still real and this resonates with the “add women and stir concept” which is insensitive to the unique historical and cultural context of women, especially women in the southern part of the world.
These forms of stereotyping will not ‘self-correct’ and will require being intentional in our efforts in ensuring that there is gender parity especially in the area of science. This will call for creating the enabling environment for women to perform their duties irrespective of their social roles. Women do not have to be men before they can perform. Given the right environment, taking into consideration their unique circumstances; women have the potential to rise and do as much (and even better in some cases) as their male counterparts.