Don identifies Challenges facing African Women Researchers

The Acting Head, Department of Hospitality and Tourism, College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC), and a Fellowship Awardee, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), Dr. Mobolaji Omemu, has identified cultural norms, family demands, gender inequality, lack of role models, lack of leadership skills and organisational support, as well as age barrier as some of the major challenges hindering African women researchers from moving up the career ladder.

Delivering her address at a Role Modelling Event of AWARD, held recently in the University with the theme, “Blocking the Leaky Pipeline: Career Advancement Strategies for Young Women in Science”, Dr. Omemu noted that the number of women that enrolled into agricultural sciences and other related courses was steadily increasing, but not commensurate with the number of women researchers who moved up the career ladder. She called for greater commitment, focus and determination from women researchers and encouraged them to always chose a mentee for themselves, whom they would motivate and encourage to move up the career ladder without much difficulty. On the way forward, the Chairperson, Admissions Committee of the University, Professor Yemisi Eromosele, pointed out that planning was very essential and recommended that young women researchers should always put a plan in mind on what they hoped to achieve within the next five to 10 years after graduation. She added that they should also carry their family along with their plans as their support was needed in realising their dreams.

Professor Eromosele encouraged women researchers to join professional bodies, stick to their plans and always endeavour to be two or three steps ahead of their counterparts because of other home-front responsibilities. Corroborating her, the immediate past Dean of COLFHEC, Professor Folake Henshaw, re-emphasised the need for women researchers to draw a road map for themselves, adding that the fact that they got married, should not allow their dreams and career to die. She advised them not to go into any relationship or get married to someone who did not share in their dreams. Professor Henshaw charged them to be disciplined enough to be willing to start-off from where they stopped and discard the notion that if a lady acquired too many degrees, she would not get a suitor to marry. Speaking on the role of a mentor in career advancement, the Dean of Postgraduate School, Professor Ololade Enikuomehin, disclosed that in choosing a good mentor, mentees should look out for the following qualities which should include someone with the ability to motivate, encourage, navigate through life with them, teach, organise and re-energise them to live their dreams and reach the peak of their careers. He also appealed to the menfolk not to see women making progress as a threat but rather, partners in progress.
In his keynote address, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole, stated that women, who had reached the peak of their careers and fought for their dreams, deserved to be celebrated. The Vice-Chancellor, who is also the President, Association of African Universities (AAU), said he was looking forward to a time in the University system when women would hold 40 percent of leadership positions. He encouraged women to equally work towards creating a greater future for themselves, not minding any challenge they might face, adding that he would loved to be remembered as a Vice-Chancellor that ensured that qualified people were duly promoted.

AWARD is a career development programme that equips top women agricultural scientists across the sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills, through tailored fellowships. It serves as a catalyst for innovations with high potentials to contribute to the prosperity and well-being of African smallholder farmers, most of whom are women. Established in 2008, AWARD to date, has 390 African women scientists drawn from 11 countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia while AWARD Fellows benefit from the two-year career development programme that is focused on fostering mentoring partnerships, building science skills, and developing leadership capacity.

Last Updated on December 16, 2014 by admin

Leave a Reply