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Gender, Science and Technology: Perspectives from Africa

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This sixth volume of the CODESRIA Gender Series is a collection of discourses, perspectives, practices and policies on the role of the female gender in science and technology, particularly in the African context. Although widely advocated as the indisputable foundation for political and economic power in the modern world, science and technology remains marked by various layers and dimensions of gender inequality that work to the disadvantage of girls and women. Despite the fact that a lot of awareness has been created, and gender issues are now more readily acknowledged by various development initiatives in Africa, participation in science and technology still remains a hurdle as far as girls and women are concerned. A common theme that runs through the book is how feminine identities, ideologies of domesticity and gender stereotypes, and the inadequacy or lack of clear policies facilitate the invisibility of women in science and technology. This notwithstanding, women have never ceased devising clever and ingenious ways that would enable them to master nature, from the margins. The book provides a window onto the current state of female participation in science and technology in Africa, along with an analysis of the historical backgrounds, current educational and professional contexts, and prospects for the future. While it is evident that more research needs to be done, with more groups in different regions, this volume brings together a rich and inspiring collection of qualitative insights on gender, science and technology in Africa. The CODESRIA Gender Series acknowledges the need to challenge the masculinities underpinning the structures of repression that target women. The series aims to keep alive and nourish African social science research with insightful research and debates that challenge conventional wisdom, structures and ideologies that are narrowly informed by caricatures of gender realities. It strives to showcase the best in African gender research and provide a platform for emerging new talents to flower.

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Published 15 March 2008
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EAN13 9782869784000
Language English
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Gender, Science and Technology: Perspectives from Africa
Edited by Catherine Wawasi Kitetu
CODESRIA Gender Series 6
Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
© Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2008 Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop Angle Canal IV, BP 3304 Dakar, 18524 Senegal. http:\\www.codesria.org All rights reserved
Typeset by Hadijatou Sy
Printed by Imprimerie Graphiplus, Dakar, Senegal
ISBN: 978-2-86978-221-1
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is an independent organisation whose principal objectives are facilitating research, promoting research-based publishing and creating multiple forums geared towards the exchange of views and information among African researchers. It challenges the fragmentation of research through the creation of thematic research networks that cut across linguistic and regional boundaries.
CODESRIA publishes a quarterly journal,Africa Development,the longest standing Africa-based social science journal;Afrika Zamani,a journal of history; theAfrican Sociological Review; African Journal of International Affairs(AJIA);Africa Review of Books; Identity, Culture and Politics: An Afro-Asian Dialogueand theJournal of Higher Education in Africa.It copublishes theAfrica Media Review.Research results and other activities of the institution are disseminated through ‘Working Papers’, ‘Monograph Series’, ‘CODESRIA Book Series’, and the CODESRIA Bulletin.
CODESRIA would like to express its gratitude to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA/SAREC), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, NORAD, the Danish Agency for International Development (DANIDA), the French Ministry of Cooperation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rockefeller Foundation, FINIDA, CIDA, IIEP/ADEA, OECD, OXFAM America, UNICEF and the Government of Senegal for supporting its research, training and publication programmes.
Contents
List of Contributors.......................................................................................................... v Acknowledgements..........................................................................................................vi Introduction Catherine Wawasi Kitetu ......................................................................................................1
PART I: Science and Technology in Society: Discourse, Perspectives, Practices and Policy
Chapter 1 Discourse and Practice of Science: Implication for Women in Africa Catherine W. Kitetu .............................................................................................................11
Chapter 2 National Policy on Science and Technology: An Integral Component of Development Strategy for African Countries John W. Forje ...... .............................................................................................................21
Chapter 3 Binary Synthesis, Epistemic Naturalism and Subjectivities: Perspectives for Understanding Gender, Science and Technology in Africa Damian U. Opata ................................................................................................................30
PART II: Science and Technology in Education
Chapter 4 Educational Policies and the Under-Representation of Women in Scientific and Technical Disciplines in Niger Elisabeth Sherif ......................................................................................................... .......49
Chapter 5 Girls Opting for Science Streams in Benin: Self-Renunciation or Discrimination in the Educational System? Ghislaine Agonhessou Yaya ........................................................................ ................... 66
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Gender, Science and Technology: Perspectives from Africa
Chapter 6 Towards Gender Sensitive Counseling in Science and Technology Olubukola Olakunbi Ojo ........................................................................................... .....80
Chapter 7 Early Scientists Were Men; So Are Today’s: Perceptions of Science and Technology Among Secondary School Students in Kenya Kenneth O. Nyangena .......................................................................................................88
Chapter 8 Looking Beyond Access: A Case Study of Girls’ Science and Technology Education in Murang’a District, Kenya Mweru Mwingi ......................................................................................................
...........97
Chapter 9 Gendered Views on Science and Technology Notions in Performing Arts: Characterisation and Casting in Kenya Schools Drama Festival Items Lydia Ayako Mareri .................................................................................................... ...114
Chapter 10 Repositioning Computer Studies: Cultural Context and Gendered Subject Choices in Kenya Fibian Kavulani Lukalo ........................................................................................ .........128
PART III: Science and Technology: The Case of One Woman, Many Women
Chapter 11 Busy Career and Intimate Life: A Biography of Nahid Toubia, First Woman Surgeon in Sudan Jackline K. Moriasi ..................................................................................................... ...147
Chapter 12 Assessing the Impact of Coffee Production on Abagusii Women of Western Kenya: A Historical Analysis (1900–1963) Samson Omwoyo ........................................................................................................ ...156
Chapter 13 Gender-Based Associations and Female Farmers Participation in Science and Technology Projects in Anambra State of Nigeria Anthonia I. Achike .............................................................. ...........................................168
List of Contributors
Anthonia Achike, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nigeria, Nigeria. Catherine Wawasi Kitetu, Department of Languages and Linguistics, Egerton University, Kenya. Damian Opata, Department of English, University of Nigeria, Nigeria. Elisabeth Sherif, Centre d’Etude d’Afrique Noire, Institut d’Etudes Politique, Dedeaux, France. Fibian Kavulani Lukalo, Institute for Human Resource Development, Moi University, Kenya. Ghislaine Agonhessou Yaya, Department of the NGO FMN, Calavi, Benin. John Wilson ForjePolitical Science, University of , Department of Yaounde II, Cameroon. Jackline Kerubo Moriasi,Agricultural Economics and Business,Department of Egerton University, Kenya. Lydia Ayako Mareri,Languages and Linguistics, Egerton University,Department of Kenya. Mweru Mwingi,Education, Rhodes University, South Africa.Department of Kenneth Nyangena, Department of Development Support, University of Orange Free State, South Africa. Olubukola Olakunbi Ojo, Department of Educational Foundations and Counseling, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Samson Moenga Omwoyo, Department of History, Archaeology and Political Studies, Kenyatta University, Kenya.
Acknowledgements
First and foremost, I give many thanks to CODESRIA, which invited and financed the one-month peer reviewing of the proposals presented at the Gender Institute 2003. CODESRIA also funded all the research that the laureates went on to do, and finally arranged the publica-tion of these papers. Thanks to the CODESRIA secretariat in Dakar, who worked tirelessly with us while in session with much cheerfulness and good humour. Thanks are also due to the resource persons and all the laureates of the Gender Institute 2003, for their patience and very active participation during the workshops and, later, while working on their papers which form the contents of this book. Many heartfelt thanks are also due to my co-director, Josephine Beoku-Betts, who painstakingly reviewed the first drafts of all the papers in this collection. All efforts have been made to polish the thoughts presented here. However, the positions adopted are those of the writers of the chapters and not necessarily those of the co-directors of the Gender Institute 2003 or CODESRIA.
Introduction
This collection is a contribution to current debates on gender, science and technology. Feminist debates and research about science can generally be put into two slots: the women question in science (that is, women’s participation in sciences) and the science question in feminism (that is, the construction of feminine knowledge). The chapters in this collection deal mainly with the first—women’s participation in science. In recent years, science and technology has been widely advocated as the indisputable foundation for political and economic power in the modern world. However, science is still marked by various layers and dimensions of deep-seated gender inequality that work to the disadvantage of women. Despite the fact that a lot of awareness has been created and that gender issues are now more readily acknowledged by developers in Africa, participation in science and technology con-tinues to remain a hurdle as far as girls and women are concerned. Half the African population is lagging behind in science and technology. This is not lost on developers, but there is presently a dearth of research to show what actually goes on in the region. UNESCO provided seminal information through its regional office for Education in Africa, based in Dakar (BREDA 1999) in a project titled ‘Technical, Scientific and Vocational Training for Young Girls’, which identified factors determining how positively or negatively girls were being guided into scientific and technical streams. Measures adopted by member states to improve girls’ access to these streams were also identified. However, UNESCO’s initiatives have not received adequate follow up. CODESRIA’s Gender Institute of 2003 was therefore a step in the right direction towards filling this gap. The chapters in this book, which are the outcome of that institute, are a welcome contribution. The findings of the UNESCO-funded project showed that gender inequalities in sciences are not inevitable. In fact, where public authorities, teacher associations and officials decided to take action, positive results regarding girls’ involvement were obtained, such as in ‘science clinics’ in Ghana and Nigeria, Olympiads andblocs scientifiques et technologiquesin Senegal. The present collection sheds light on situations on the continent and factors that hinder such positive actions. A common theme runs through the chapters: the exclusion of girls and women from science and technology in Africa is about feminine identities, ideologies of domesticity and gender stereotypes. There are no clear policies on gender and science in most countries. Education practices follow societal beliefs and help define feminine
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Gender, Science and Technology: Perspectives from Africa
identities, which then reproduce the ideology of domesticity among girls and encou-rage a rejection of science and technology. Later in life, these ideologies translate into stereotypes that result in women being kept away from scientific positions and being denied access to technical jobs. Issues of gender and science and technology are not witnessed in African countries alone. Few countries in the world have managed as yet to deal with these issues adequately. However, when Africa is involved, as is the case with everything else, these issues become enormous. A critical examination of feminist studies shows the voice of the African woman sadly lacking not only in science and technology but in everything else. Most feminist studies have been blind to the contradictions and complexities that inform girls’ experiences. The task therefore is to reclaim the African woman from, not only exclusion from sciences, but also religion and other social areas. Exclusion is even affirmed in African mythology, where proverbs and all wise sayings stress gender differences and divisions.
Some Pertinent Questions about Science and Technology
What are science and technology? Science is concerned with how and why things happen, while technology deals with making things happen. Science explains the reasons behind phenomena, while technology is the use of tools, machines, materials, techniques and sources of power to make work easier and more productive. However, dominant science, as it is practiced today, adheres to Northern and Western conceptualisations, values and language use. As such, science is historically and culturally (read Western) located. It is not value-free. Science should be informed—must be informed—by the daily experiences of people in the world. Yet, in most parts of Africa, the experiences of girls and women are excluded. This collection examines this exclusion and generally points at education policies and practices and cultural perceptions as the main hindrances to girls and women’s participation in science and technology. However, there are many ques-tions that still need answers: how do Third World scientists position themselves in the face of Western dominant science? How do African scientists interpret scientific meanings and technologies practised by their people? Are there other ways of ‘knowing’ (real African ways of knowing) that are lacking in science as it is taught today? Why African women? What distinctive approaches do women bring to science? There are arguments that the knowledge of an African woman comes from her interaction with nature through, for example, subsistence agriculture and seed ger-mination, as exemplified by initiatives such as the Green Belt movement in Kenya championed by Professor Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Laureate 2004). However, this knowledge is not documented, and neither are women’s contributions incorporated into development initiatives. The writers of this volume, mainly drawn from the social sciences because of these subjects’ strength in gender studies, make their contribution by showing how exclusion takes place and how much still remains to be done to overcome this exclusion. Questions related to science knowledge—and