More women participate in science, technology

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cape Town - There seems to be progress in the field of science and technology as more women are participating and graduating in this discipline in South Africa.

This was revealed at the launch of the "Facing the Facts 2009" booklet - the result of a study by a sub-committee of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), Science, Engineering and Technology for Women (SET4W).

"There has been an expansion of participation in higher education by black and female students," said Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor.

The 2009 report shows some improvement compared to the 2004 report by the NACI, which indicated that women participation in Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) was weak.

Presenting the report, Dr Romilla Maharaj of SET4W, said there had been a 1 percent increase in the number of female enrolments in the higher education sector. She, however, said women remained a minority in the degree levels of Masters and PHD.

This was echoed by Minister Pandor, who said the country was producing less PHD graduates. South Africa produces less than half of a set target of 3 000 PHD graduates a year.

"We have got to do more to expand the number of PHD graduates. We need to look at more attractive remuneration packages for researchers," said the minister.

Between 2002 and 2005, the majority of rated scientists were men. The proportion of female rated scientists increased from 25 percent in 2001 to 29 percent in 2005.

The minister said her department was also taking into account the importance of incorporating the talent of women into the SET workforce. "The department will continue to make an effort to attract more women to careers in SET and retain them," said Minister Pandor.