By Patrick Amunavi
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and the Mentoring Network of African Women in Academia (MTAWA) have organised a two-day workshop (July 24 –25, 2018) focused on equipping of women scholars/graduates for their academic and professional advancement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and related fields.
The international workshop is informed by the fact that from sustainable food security to the provision of decent housing and infrastructure, to powering with renewable energy resources, nations worldwide are facing challenges that require a strong scientific, technological, and innovative workforce.
The workshop that brings together over 150 participating scholars, graduates and professionals drawn from Kenya and the East African region, will take place at JKUAT Main Campus (JUJA), and will entail discussion sessions that address the selection of appropriate graduate programmes and career paths; application to graduate programmes abroad; and mentorship in professional and academic environments.
In Kenya as in other sub-regions and regions, developing such a robust workforce requires developing and engaging capacities and resources from all segments of society. In many countries, the small percentage of women researchers and leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and related fields is a strong indication that resources are being under-utilized, depriving countries of their ability to reach their full potential in innovation and discovery.
However, workshop organizers believe that “through strategic and concerted efforts, increased engagement and advancement of women in these disciplines and in leadership is possible and necessary. By so doing, Kenya and Africa become positioned to engage even more effectively in shaping development and providing solutions across sectors for the continent and beyond.”
The workshop aims to “provide participants with information and tools for application to post-graduate programmes; equip participants with skills to enhance professional/career development; as well as provide participants with opportunities to network with scholars, professionals and peers.”
MTAWA is a group of US-based African women with advanced degrees and working in academia, government and industry that seeks to establish and build networks for African women in academia in support of their academic and professional growth and success.
By convening groups of African women professionals, scholars and students, MTAWA provides much-needed information, mentoring and support. Ultimately, MTAWA’s vision is to increase the number of African women with advanced degrees and improve their representation in key leadership positions across multiple sectors.
The delivery of the Government of Kenya’s identified Big-Four focal areas of Manufacturing, Affordable Housing, Food Security, and Universal Healthcare is dependent on expert support in engineering, building sciences, agriculture, health sciences, and information sciences, all of which are integral JKUAT areas of training and research.