As part of celebrations marking the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on Thursday 8th February 2018, invited 350 students from 17 schools to an Open Day under the theme Opening Doors, Closing the Gender Gap.
Women have a long legacy of significant contributions to science. However, the proportion of male to female leadership in the field remains heavily skewed towards men. In Africa, challenges for women begin early as chances of getting into the university are five times lower for women than for men. To help closing the gender gap in Africa, both women themselves and men need to perceive women as intellectually equal.
As part of celebrations marking the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM hosted this event with the aim to educate the youth – both boys and girls – about the significant accomplishments of female leaders in global health in sub-Saharan Africa and to illustrate the career opportunities that are available in science.
Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, Unit Director, welcomed the children and underlined the importance of MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM opening doors to the community.
Dr Anna Roca, Deputy Theme Leader Disease Control & Elimination at the Unit, explained to the students the importance of making women visible in the different fields of science as otherwise societies are at risk of missing half of their potential. Speaking at the occasion, Sharon Wardle United Kingdom Ambassador to The Gambia applauded MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM for the great initiative and Mrs. Ramou B Gaye also expressed her support to the initiative.
MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM female PhD students, post-doctoral fellows and senior scientists gave short oral presentations on the benefits and opportunities of being a woman in the field of science.
Other female MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM staff explained their path to reach to their current position and senior laboratory scientists showcased their research activities that are conducted in the labs. In addition, posters with inspirational quotes of female scientists were on display.
The students were divided into six groups and taken on a tour around MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM Fajara main site.