The African Research Academies For Women; Bridging The Gender Gap in African Scientists
The African Academies for Women (ARA-W) is an organization whose mission is to encourage more African women to take up STEM education and reduce the gender inequality in STEM careers. They intend to achieve this by creating summer research opportunities for undergraduate female students, in order to spark an interest in research in the upcoming generation. The organization was pitched at the CGI University this year in Arizona and is currently being sponsored and supported by the President Bill Clinton Global Initiative.
ARA-W was founded by Kwadwo Sarpong, from Emory University and his friend Shadrack Frimpong from the University of Pennsylvania together with a team of university students from pharmacy, medical and other undergraduate studies. ARA-W has also partnered with Research Institutes in Africa,and they are on the road to solidify their first academy; the Ghana Research Academy for Women. They have obtained support from the University of Ghana Noguchi Institute for Medical Research.
Through the Ghana Research Academy for Women, ARA-W intends to bridge the gender gap in African scientists, by creating summer research opportunities for the undergraduate women to spark an interest in research, in the upcoming generation. The female undergraduate students who will take part in this imitative will participate in an 8 week summer research internship where taken through several workshops and lectures, visit hospitals to collect data on the prevalent diseases in Ghana. At the end of the summer, students will be required to present their research findings at a symposium with faculty and other students present.
Ghana Research Academy for Women mission is two-fold; to identify problems in the society (technical, social and medical) and find sustainable, lasting solutions to these problems through sponsorships and partnerships form organizations in Ghana and abroad. Beyond the summer research academy, the organization envision graduates of the program going on to serve as ambassadors and mentors to future participants. The goal is to have a life long relationship with students who pass through their program by connecting them with established women in science both in the USA and Ghana. In a bid to nurture, guide, encourage and monitor them in both their academic journey and career goals. The organization will be glad to have students refer to them as a major influence in their successful journey to a STEM career.
Innov8tiv caught up with the founding member of ARA-W to find out, their aspirations that lead to them taking part in this initiative. The following is what they had to say:
I know there is a saying that behind every successful man is a woman. However, being involved in ARA-W has led me to think differently. Why can’t that quotation be reversed to show parity? The greatest thing would be to also see African men in our society, passionately encouraging our women to become their very best. Accordingly, I want to take the first step in doing that by being actively involved in the African Research Academies for Women.”
I have high hopes that this organization will revolutionize so much in terms of innovation in Africa. And I love the idea of having women leading that innovation. It makes me glad to be part of an organization that will foster such an idea”.
I hope all the women who participate in the African Research Academies for women will find pleasure in discoveries which could directly in improve human welfare on our continent. I look at the whole mission of this organization and it makes me happy to be a founding member.”
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