British and Ghanaian US-based Biotech and Healthcare Innovation Expert, Efua Edusei, has made a strong case for the pioneering and prioritisation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and capacity building in Africa.
According to her, this will present a major boost for life sciences in Africa and globally.
It is against this background that Efua Edusei is advocating for more women to boldly pursue careers in the STEM field.
“Currently, in most African countries including Ghana, STEM careers are still heavily geared toward men. A recent UNESCO Science report recorded that only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women.
“In addition, only 33 percent of researchers are women, although they represent 45 percent and 55 percent of students at the Bachelors and Masters level respectively. This gender disparity in a field that is considered to have the jobs of the future and drives innovation is alarming.
“However, the disparity can be tackled by active e-community engagement and policymakers developing sustainable programmes which open this world to more women,” Efua Edusei revealed.
“Female scientists should be celebrated, as some of the greatest biomedical inventions of our time were discovered by women – including Hellen Murray Free, who developed the self-testing systems for diabetes like the dip-and-read test,” she said.
She added: “African-American ophthalmologist Patricia Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe, a device used to remove cataracts and cataract lenses – and these are just a few”.
Touching on the COVID-19 pandemic and the new normal, she indicated that more recently female researchers have been an integral part of the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Kizzmekia Corbett, an African-American scientist at the US National Institute of Health (NIH) helped to design the Moderna COVID vaccine. Following this achievement, Corbett was granted the honour of becoming one of the first people to open a vial of the vaccine, which she shared during an interview with CBS News earlier this year.
“The same qualities like attention to detail and empathy that make women excellent housemakers and mothers, if they choose to be, also make us wonderful scientists,” she said.
Ms. Edusei underscored that it is high time everyone played their part in actively encouraging more young women to pursue careers in the sciences.
“Let’s make wearing a lab-coat, building machines, and doing math attractive for young women in this generation and beyond – Mother Africa and global health will benefit greatly from this in the future.”
She further made reference to the United Nations Secretary General’s concern for women and girls’ empowerment.
“At his International Day of Women and Girls in Science speech, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasised the importance of giving girls access to the education they deserve, and stressed that ‘women belong in science’.”
She added: “Perhaps initiatives such as International Day of Women and Girls can be emulated at a local and regional level, whereby countries can have specific days and events dedicated to celebrating women in STEM to raise awareness”.
About Efua Edusei
Efua Edusei is a highly regarded biotech and healthcare innovation professional, with over 10 years of experience leading growth and marketing strategy, business development and partnerships which provide patients access to more innovative healthcare options.
Throughout her career, she has supported life science companies in marketing strategy, strategic planning and business development, holding roles of increasing leadership responsibility across award-winning start-ups such as mPharma and 54gene, and Biogen – a leading global biotech company. Ms. Edusei holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, an MSc in Biomedicine and Health Policy from the London School of Economics & Political Sciences (LSE) and a BSc in Pharmacology from University College London ( UCL).