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• Prof. Marian Asantewah Nkansah, Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry, KNUST, addressing participants in the event
• Prof. Marian Asantewah Nkansah, Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry, KNUST, addressing participants in the event

Expert advocates gender specific policies in STI for women

AN Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. Marian Asantewah Nkansah, has advocated specific policies to make women in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to thrive.

She said that would help to close the gender gap while inspiring more young women in particular to pursue careers in STI.

Broadly, such policies will also help provide unique solutions to problems and increase the quality of research and innovation in the country.

“There are general policies on science, engineering, but there are not any specifically for women, so I recommend for us to have women specific policies, so that the few women who are in these spaces will find it safe and well managed to thrive,” she said.

Prof. Nkansah made the call at a women in innovation and research conference held in Accra recently on the theme: “Breaking Barriers, Empowering Women, Driving Ownership: Putting Women at the Core of the Research and Innovation Ecosystem.”

Conference

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The conference organised by Heritors Labs in collaboration with Research and Innovation Systems in Africa (RISA) Fund was supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

It brought together experts in research, development and innovation (R&DI) to discuss challenges faced by women in the industry, identify strategies to address gender disparities and encourage young women to pursue careers in these fields.

Sharing her personal experience, Prof. Nkansah indicated that most gender stereotypes regarding women in research and innovation were based on unconscious bias where people were groomed to think that women were supposed to pursue certain careers and not others.

Hence, they genuinely become surprised when they see women who are scientists, engineers, among others.

She said the conference was a step in the right direction, adding that “it is necessary that every now and then we take stock as women in technology, innovation and research, and then showcase the success stories so that other women especially up and coming ones will see these as role models, to show them that even though they might be going through challenges it is possible.”
 
Driving women’s action

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Heritors Lab Limited, Derrydean Dadzie, said women faced a lot of barriers that affected their abilities and also impeded their full potential in STI.

He said the collaboration with RISA sought to generate conditions and work with the stakeholders to help break those barriers and perceptions to ensure that women get out there to make meaningful impact.

“We must invest in women, be deliberate about ensuring that scientific output that is led by women are given the needed boost in terms of support in any form including especially money and policy to drive women’s action forward,” he advised.

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