Pandor urges more women into science

2012-08-31 15:47
Naledi Pandor has urged more women to enter the fields of science and technology. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Naledi Pandor has urged more women to enter the fields of science and technology. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - South Africa needed more women scientists to help reduce poverty and solve health problems, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said on Friday.

"As in many other parts of the developing and developed world, women's scientific skills and abilities are still very much under-utilised in our country," she said at a business breakfast in Johannesburg hosted by The New Age.

"We have to do more to increase women's access to scientific knowledge, especially if we are to tackle the development challenges that face the most vulnerable in society."

She was concerned that women scientists received "far fewer" research grants from the National Research Foundation than men.

Her department wanted to help build a knowledge-based economy, to help create sustained economic growth.

Next generation

Pandor said astronomy had the potential to encourage young people to become scientists.

"In our experience, astronomy is proving to be an unrivalled instrument for science education in terms of the excitement it generates among our youth. Astronomy not only benefits human capital development. The development of research infrastructures is also significantly boosted."

She said she was working with the department of basic education to ensure that schools in rural areas had laboratories. Treasury had provided significant funding for this.

Pandor said the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) was an important project, but skills needed to be produced in many other fields in science.

She urged researchers to remain in their field. There was a need to train the next generation of academics as the current one was getting old.

"They [academics] are ageing, they are male and they tend to be white. I am not being racist... So we need to ensure that we have more women, more young black people that are being prepared to take up positions of teaching and research in our universities."

Pandor said her department had started several initiatives to ensure science and technology contributed to job creation in the country.

One example was a R1.6bn project to establish the first pharmaceutical plant to make ingredients for antiretroviral medicines in South Africa.
- SAPA
Read more on:    naledi pandor  |  science  |  technology
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