Sunday, June 28, 2009

If you educate a girl, Part II

While there are some role models for African women scientists and engineers, these pioneers need much more visibility and more public acknowledgment of their work. Women often face challenges that their male colleagues do not, given the gender division of labor in much of Africa. From time to time, this blog will highlight contemporary examples, and readers are invited to suggest others. Today's blog posting features:

Marian Ewurama Addy, a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts & Science since 1999, is a Ghanaian with a doctorate in biochemistry from the Pennsylvania State University (1971). She studied botany and chemistry at the University of Ghana. Dr. Addy has a passionate interest in "bridging the gap between scientific and indigenous knowledge" and "the popularization of science." In 2003 she presented the Academy's J. B. Danquah Memorial Lecture, 3 lectures on the topic "Training the Next Generation of Scientists," which were published as a monograph in 2004.

She has been very active in the international community [e.g., as a Regional Secretary for the Committee on Science and Technology in Developing Countries,
COSTED, a committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU), and helping to establish Western African Network of Natural Products Research Scientists (WANNPRES)] and has won many awards. She was named the "Marketing Woman of the Year" in 1995 for her "marketing," not of the usual goods, but of "Science."

She began her first Danquah lecture with words of confession borrowed from religion: "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done." Her monograph is highly recommended.

A couple more representative quotes from it include:

“….(Students) take courses in science subjects……The practical component of the program may be dismissed in one phrase: subject to availability of funds…..The fact that finance is the main problem with respect to capacity building in the sciences is acknowledged…Yet, there has been no special initiative to find solutions to the problem. When it comes to science, we in Ghana want to go to heaven but we do not want to die.” (p. 14)

“Education is a war against ignorance. Quality science education is not cheap. If we are serious about science education, we should declare war on ignorance and provide the necessary resources to fight it” (p. 32).

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