Publications: Female Participation in African Agricultural Research and Higher Education New Insights

Authors: Nienke Beintema and Federica Di Marcantonio

This report presents the results of an in-depth benchmarking survey on gender-disaggregated capacity indicators, covering 125 agricultural research and higher education agencies in 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the first study of its kind to present detailed human resources data on female participation in agricultural science, the main findings of which include the following:

  • Total capacity in terms of the professional staff employed at the agricultural research and higher education agencies included in this study increased by 20 percent between 2000/01 and 2007/08, and women constituted almost half of this capacity increase. The female population of professional staff grew by eight percent per year on average, which is four times higher than the comparable rate of increase for the male population, indicating that the gender gap in African agricultural sciences is closing.
  • The proportion of female professional staff employed at the sample agricultural research and higher education agencies increased from 18 percent in 2000/01 to 24 percent in 2007/08, but fewer women have advanced degrees compared to their male colleagues. In 2007/08, for example, 27 percent of the sample’s professional women held PhD degrees compared with 37 percent of the sample’s professional men.
  • Levels of female participation in agricultural research and higher education among the sample agencies were particularly low in Ethiopia (6 percent), Togo (9 percent), Niger (10 percent), and Burkina Faso (12 percent). Shares of female professional staff were much higher in South Africa, Mozambique, and Botswana (32, 35, and 41 percent, respectively).
  • The female share of students enrolled in higher agricultural education was higher than the female shares of professional staff employed at the agricultural research and higher education agencies in most cases, but a significant proportion of the female students concerned were undertaking only BSc-level studies (83 percent).

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