Closing the gender gap in science

Prof Christine Lochner

Bridging the gender gap in science and technology are Profs Soraya Seedat and Christine Lochner’s aims with their appointment to the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD).

“Science, and equal opportunities for all in science – irrespective of gender – is a passion,” says Lochner, a clinical psychologist with the SU/UCT MRC Unit on Anxiety and Stress Disorders at the Department of Psychiatry of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. She was recently accepted as an associate member of the OWSD’s National Chapter in South Africa (SA).

Seedat, who heads the Department of Psychiatry, was appointed full membership to the OWSD.

The aim of the OWSD SA is to influence policy by providing evidence-based scientific advice to policy makers and other stakeholders to help address national issues related to gender equality in science and technology.

“Membership of OWSD is one way of expressing my solidarity with their aim of promoting access to science and technology, particularly for women,” says Lochner. “My goal is similar to theirs: to assist in the development of opportunities to evolve, explore and improve strategies for increasing female participation in science.”

The OWSD was founded in 1987 and is the first international forum to unite eminent women scientists from the developing and developed worlds with the objective of strengthening their role in the development process and promoting their representation in scientific and technological leadership.

The OWSD provides research training, career development and networking opportunities for women scientists throughout the developing world at different stages in their careers.

“Membership to this and similar organisations reminds role players of the importance of applying the gender lens in policymaking and implementation, and to include women in science and technology leadership,” says Lochner.

The OWSD SA is hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and has been appointed as the southern African chapter of GenderInSITE (Gender in Science, Innovation, Technology and Engineering), a global initiative to raise awareness among decision makers of the gender and SITE dimension of development. It works in partnership with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat and African academies of science to support policy development, human capital development as well as promotion and awareness-raising of women in SITE.

Wilma Stassen