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Govt to intensify role of women in science

by Bathandwa Mbola
on 09 Aug 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The Department of Science and Technology is to intensify its efforts to enhance the role and profile of women in the development of scientific knowledge, says the department's Minister Mosibudi Mangena.

Speaking at the annual Women in Science Awards held in Johannesburg on Friday, the minister said there is a need to enhance programmes that will ensure women participation in the male-dominated fields such as science, engineering and technology.

"We will keep on striving to ensure that there will be an outstanding contribution of women scientists and researchers," Mr Mangena told the delegates attending the gala dinner.

The awards pays tribute to women achievers who are making their contributions not only in their fields but whose research work has helped in improving the quality of life for all.

To attract more women in to the field, Mr Mangena said the department would strengthen the role and influence of women in the National System of Innovation which is a network of players that interact to constitute the country's innovation system.

"We need to ensure that the National System of Innovation not only takes cognisance of the needs of women as producers and consumers of innovation but that the voices of women are heard in setting the national research agenda."

He said the problem of women who drop out of studying science, engineering and technology would also be addressed.

Accordingly he said his department would continue to partner with the Department of Education to ensure that the higher education institutions begin to create environments in which the diverse South African society is supported and made to feel welcome.

"Our efforts will focus not only on tertiary institutions, but also on ensuring that girl learners are encouraged and supported in maths and science at all levels," said Mr Mangena.

Moving on he encouraged women scientist to focus on the energy sector.

"Given the challenges our energy sector faces, I call upon our women scientists and entrepreneurs to also focus in this sector."

This, he said, was critical for sustainable development that investments in the energy infrastructure and services do not only promote women's social and economic development, but also ensure that women are afforded their rightful place in decision-making forums.

Africa, including South Africa has a critical shortage of trained technological people.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics Bulletin on Science and Technology, it is estimated that about 29 percent of researchers in Africa are women.

In just over one half of countries with available data, they represent less than 30 percent of researchers. - BuaNews

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