Editor’s note: This month, Elsevier Connect is exploring “how science can build a sustainable future.” In fact, gender diversity is key to sustainability and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Recently, Elsevier was a sponsor and presenter at major event on this topic in Egypt.
The 1st International Conference on Woman in Science Without Borders drew about 400 participants from 24 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America to discuss and promote the effective role of women in the field of scientific research.
The timing was chosen to coincide with the Egyptian Mother’s Day on March 21 as well as the Year of the Egyptian Woman – with an agenda that supports the socio-economic empowerment and fair rights and representation of women. The conference was held under the patronage of Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Dr. Mahmoud Sakr, President of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology.
Widely supported by the scientific community, the event included both male and female scientists, students, researchers, journalists and public affairs professionals. It was a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences, at the international and local level and among all age groups and disciplines in science, technology, engineering, innovation, medicine and sustainable development.
“As the number of Egyptian female researchers is currently around 43 percent of the total Egyptian researchers, we can only expect a great and unprecedented role of Egyptian women in the field of scientific research,” said Dr. Sakr, referring to data from the Egyptian Observatory for Science, technology and Innovation Indicators at the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology.
To further support the country’s efforts in promoting female scientists, he announced that the academy would hold a competition honoring women's excellence in science, technology and innovation. Researchers will be selected by the scientific community from the fields of scientific research, management of science and technology, and scientific media.
The event included 105 lectures. Topics, all viewed through a gender lens, covered quality of education, the right atmosphere for increased scientific productivity, and awareness of gender issues for male and females.
In addition, there was room for capacity building with an author workshop attended by more than 500 participants. Dr. Charon Duermeijer, Senior Director of Academic Customer Engagement at Elsevier, shared her expertise on how to write a scientific research article and how to avoid pitfalls, highlighting the experiences of Elsevier’s editors.
“I loved the atmosphere of interest and collaboration and the great number of interactions after the session,” she said. “One could really feel the passion for science in the room.”
Dr. Duermeijer also presented the results of Elsevier’s analytical report Gender in the Global Research Landscape.
As a participant in the conference, she said it was particularly interesting to learn about the inspiring paths female scientists from across the globe have walked to reach their own ambitions and goals in life. Charon herself has a strong interest in science communication and a passion for education and knowledge sharing. In 2015, she was a volunteer for the Elsevier Foundation’s program Publishers without Borders (now Research without Borders) in Tanzania, helping embed science and scientific publishing into the nation’s universities and research institutions.
“It was a true privilege to speak at such a prominent conference,” she said. “I certainly hope that this conference is a start of a stimulating new tradition.”
Conference Chair Dr. Amal Amin and the organizers put together an impressive lists of speakers, including Dr. Hayat Cindy, a member of UN Scientific Advisory Board of the UN, in Saudi Arabia; Prof. Dr. Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Infectious Diseases Epidemiologist and Associate Scientific Director of CAPRISA; and Dr. Rana Dajani, a member of the UN Women Jordan advisory council.
"The success of the conference was a testimonial of how science can be the basis for communication, for building bridges of understanding among cultures and countries," Dr. Dajani said.
During the event, Dr. Dajani gave a presentation about Three Circles of Alemat – an innovative approach to mentoring. "The framework is locally owned with a focus on South-South interaction,” she explained. “It is sustainable and cost effective. It is through mentoring that we can create change at grassroots level."
The Academy of Scientific Research & Technology (ASRT) is a nonprofit organization affiliated with Egypt’s Ministry of Scientific Research. ASRT is the Egyptian house of expertise. It brings together outstanding Egyptian scientists and experts from universities, research institutions, private sector, NGOs, policymakers and prominent Egyptian scientists in Diaspora to deliberate country problems, propose and carry out scientific studies and future strategic basic plans to tackle these problems.
ASRT adopts a comprehensive plan for developing Egyptian S&T to support relevant national ministries and research institutions in creating an integrated system of scientific research together for increasing the number of trained scientists in Egypt, and giving science a leading role in the country's development and knowledge based economy. ASRT also promotes and encourages female and youth participation in S&T and scientific leadership.
How science can build a sustainable future
This month, we are exploring “how science can build a sustainable future” – revealing opportunities we may not have considered. At Elsevier, we understand the power of bringing different perspectives together to fuel new approaches to global problems. That’s why we support initiatives like the Gender Summit along with diversity and inclusion in our own workplace. And why we provide the data and analytics needed to track trends and developments in gender science.