Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology in South Africa, publicized results of a study on Tuesday on the role of women in the fields of science and technology in the country. Though women only make up thirty-three percent of publishing scientists in the country, their numbers have increased in recent years. When compared to a similar study from 2004, trends show increased enrollment of women in higher education.
Pandor was disappointed by the dearth of individuals that attended the announcement of the results of the study at the Parliament of South Africa. “It shows the degree to which science does – or doesn’t – matter to South Africans,” said Pandor. Prior to her role as Minister of Science and Technology, Pandor had served as Minister of Education of South Africa.
|“It shows the degree to which science does – or doesn’t – matter to South Africans.”|
Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, a woman scientist in South Africa, commented to News24 that some educational organizations in the country were “really, really hostile to women”.
Pandor highlighted problems affecting women and specifically black women in the country from increased participation in science, including “financial difficulties before and during tertiary studies, gender stereotyping, legacies of disadvantage in black communities, negative dynamics at workplaces, and the lack of attention to women’s specific needs”.
Women in the country are advancing against men in science fields, particularly engineering, agricultural studies and biology. At present there are a greater number of women than men among enrollments for degrees in higher education, and among individuals obtaining those degrees. According to The Times, “their biggest gain has been in health sciences, where women earned more than half the doctorates awarded in 2005”. Pandor emphasized a current need for additional women to enter the fields of technology and engineering.
The announcement at Parliament in South Africa was part of the launch of the “Facing the Facts 2009” booklet, which was published by a sub-committee of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), Science, Engineering and Technology for Women (SET4W). Dr. Romilla Maharaj of SET4W presented the report to Parliament, and stated that enrollment by women in higher education had increased by one percent from a previous study. Dr. Maharaj noted that women were still currently in the minority among individuals with degrees in higher education.