Gender and STEM Africa

Resource Type
  • Fisher, Monica (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology)
Publication Date
  • Abstract

    The data for this study was collected as part of a mixed-methods (qualitative and quantitative) research study undertaken by the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) with the objective of developing a gender strategy for the program. RSIF is one of the flagship programs of the Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), an Africa-led initiative with the objective of strengthening the applied science, engineering, and technology (ASET) capability in Africa to further its socio-economic transformation. PASET was launched in 2013 by the governments of Senegal, Ethiopia, and Rwanda with facilitation by the World Bank. Other governments including Kenya, Cote D Ivoire, Ghana, and Burkina Faso have since joined the initiative. RSIF has the following objectives: (1) Create a stock of highly skilled scientists, professionals and innovators in ASET areas; (2) Identify and nurture young talented Africans to further their studies in ASET fields where expertise is needed most; (3) Address imbalances in the number of women and disadvantaged groups in ASET fields in Africa; and (4) Build African university capacity to provide relevant ASET training and to ensure continued investment in scaling up ASET education and workforce. The program seeks to achieve gender parity among its PhD scholars. This research study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). The study was approved because (a) it was a socioeconomic study that collected data through an online SurveyMonkey survey with adult respondents (minors were not involved in the study, no blood samples were taken from humans, and no animals were involved), (b) the research questions were deemed as well defined and analysis methods considered sound, (c) the study protocol outlined clear strategies for protecting the privacy of the survey participants via data anonymization, and (d) the online survey instrument provided an informed consent form (described below). The online survey was completed by 163 women and 64 men who had pursued a STEM PhD at a university in SSA in the last 20 years. Probability sampling of respondents was not possible, given the lack of a sample frame (i.e., a list of all recent PhD students in STEM at SSA universities). Survey participants were solicited by posting the survey link on the RSIF website and sharing it with African-university professors known by the study’s authors, representatives of organizations working to advance women in STEM (e.g., Mawazo Institute and Portia) who in turn shared it widely within their networks, and former PhD students who had attended one of the 11 RSIF African host universities (AHUs). The survey link specified that we sought participants meeting the following criteria: former PhD student in a STEM field at an African university that exited the PhD program (with or without a degree) in the last 20 years. The survey had French and English versions and collected data on a range of variables reflecting demographics, socioeconomic status, PhD funding sources, motivation for pursuing a doctorate, psycho-social wellbeing during the PhD training, perceptions of gender stereotypes and discrimination in the PhD program, university resources (e.g., scientific writing course offered and presence of a gender and diversity office), PhD performance, PhD completion, and persistence in STEM. The first page of the survey was a standard informed consent form that described the voluntary nature of the survey, data confidentiality, any potential risks and benefits, the expected survey duration, and the types of information sought. Respondents had to agree to the consent form electronically in order to continue to the survey questions. The initial sample size was 262 individuals that completed the survey, which later reduced to 227 after removal of respondents from universities outside SSA. Fig 3 shows the spatial distribution of the sample, covering 17 countries in West Africa, East Africa, and southern Africa.

This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
  • Is version of
    DOI: 10.3886/E123142

Update Metadata: 2020-12-01 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-12-01