12 African female scientists getting the world’s attention right now

There have been concerns over the limited number of women scientists in Africa. According to Bola Olabisi, who is the vice-president of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs and CEO of the Global Women Inventors & Innovators Network, endless discussion impedes concrete steps to tackle Africa’s gender imbalance in science.

In a 1993 report by UNESCO, titled Women in Higher Education Management, it was estimated that men outnumbered women at about five to one at middle management level and at about twenty to one at senior management level. More than two decades later, the discussion has not really changed, especially in science. Although more women are graduating from universities as scientists, the percentage that remain in the field remains low.

To encourage female scientists to remain and inspire others to see science as a worthy field of interest, the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO have honoured 12 young women with the 2015 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Fellowships, which will enable them pursue promising research projects.

“These young researchers share the thrill of curiosity and discovery, and are strong believers that science can change the world,” a statement said.

Three of the 12 women chosen from over 5,000 applications, are recipients of the Post-Doctoral Fellowships of 10 000 Euros ($11,000) each while nine got Doctoral Fellowships of 5 000 Euros ($5,500) each.

“For the last 17 years, with the For Women In Science program, we have been fighting to advance the cause of women scientists worldwide,” says Sandeep Rai, Managing Director of L’Oréal South Africa. “Much has been achieved: more than 2,000 women have been recognised worldwide, the program has gained recognition from the international scientific community, a springboard to enable women to go further and rise to greater heights.”

The scientific research areas covered by the fellows include studies in the fields of life and engineering sciences, food and water security as well as health. New and emerging areas include laser science, nanotechnology, renewable energy and climate change science. These research studies are aimed at addressing the new sustainable development goals and building a sustainable future and planet.

Post-Doctoral Fellowship recipients:

  • Rasheedat Mahamood (Nigeria) – University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Zebib Yunus- iThemba LABS, National Research Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Jandeli Niemand- University of Pretoria, South Africa

Doctoral Fellowships:

  • Nomvano Mketo – University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Gaelle Kafira KO – Laboratory for Solar Energy and Energy Savings (LESEE), Burkina Faso
  • Shobna Sawry- University of Witwatersrand, Institute of Reproductive Health and HIV, South Africa
  • Majidah Hamid-Adiamoh – Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia and the University of Lagos,  Nigeria
  • Jinal Bhiman – University of Witwatersrand,  South Africa
  • Olubokola Adenubi (Nigeria) – University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Olotu Ifeoluwa (Nigeria) – University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Danielle Twilley – University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Edith Chepkorir – International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Kenya