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Gender in STEM Research Initiative: Announcement of projects

IDRC is pleased to announce the projects and research teams selected for the Gender in STEM Research Initiative (GIST), which aims to increase the contribution of science to gender equality to advance women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to increase gender analysis in STEM research.
GIST Collage

A total of six projects were selected following a call for proposals from across the world on “Advancing gender analysis and women’s leadership in STEM fields.” The call resulted in almost 200 applications, from which short-listed proposals were evaluated by a team of 10 external reviewers. Awarded projects will receive total funding of CAD7.3 million over the next three years to conduct research across Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).  

The research activities range from gender analysis in water and climate science in South Asia, to testing institutional efforts at gender mainstreaming in STEM in sub-Saharan Africa and establishing an open data platform on reducing the STEM gender gap in LAC. Find out more about each of the selected projects and research teams below.   

GIST builds on IDRC's body of work to strengthen individual women’s capacities in science fields in the Global South. It also aims to address the unequal participation of women scientists in STEM and limited gender-based analysis in STEM research. As in many sectors, STEM fields have seen an exacerbation of gender inequalities due to COVID-19, with the pandemic causing disruptions in research and publication for women as they take on more care work than their male counterparts. GIST is funding university-led consortia in low- and middle-income countries to conduct research that leads to tangible solutions, aiming to transform institutions and systems so they advance women in science and propel high-quality STEM teaching and research that integrates gender analysis.   

See the call for proposals for the Gender in STEM Research Initiative.  

Project Descriptions

South Asia is home to some of the most sensitive socio-ecological systems in the world. There is a need for ongoing research on climate change and widespread water insecurity. Social and gendered research is largely absent from such research and gender-inclusive participation in science education is a challenge in the region, particularly in planetary sciences and engineering. There is a gap in understanding the impact of pedagogical, institutional and market factors in furthering or constraining interdisciplinary and gendered research and practice. 

The aim of this project is to understand how such shortcomings affect gender analysis in water and climate science and whether more gender inclusivity improves gender analysis and high-quality research. It aims to improve tools and methods for postgraduate training and research and strengthen a network for knowledge exchange, advocacy and mentorship for interdisciplinary research. The project will focus on Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.    

Meet the team: 

Headshot of Dayswana

N.D.K. Dayawansa is a professor in agricultural engineering at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. She holds a BSc degree in agriculture from the University of Peradeniya, an MSc in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand and a PhD in water resources management from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Her research interests are in hydrological and water quality modelling, applications of remote sensing and GIS in natural resources management, ecosystem changes and hydrological impacts in watersheds. 

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M. Shahjahan Mondal is a professor at the Institute of Water and Flood Management of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). He has a PhD from Central Queensland University of Australia, an MSc in water resources engineering from BUET and a BSc in civil engineering from BUET. His research areas are in: hydrology and climate change; river morphology; urban and peri-urban water security; integrated and participatory management of water resources; and water governance.  

Headshot of Robert Dongol

Robert Dongol is currently an associate professor at Nepal Engineering College in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he coordinates the MSc program in Interdisciplinary Water Resources Management. He is an environmental science graduate from Kathmandu University and has completed his MSc in environmental engineering and management in 2007 from the Asian Institute of Technology. His areas of interest are water resources management, water, sanitation and hygiene. He is currently pursuing a PhD at Kathmandu University. 

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Shreya Chakraborty is a geographer and currently a senior fellow and the executive director at the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, Hyderabad, India. With an MPhil degree in geography and regional development from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and ongoing doctoral research on peri-urban water issues at the University of Cologne, her research focuses on integrating the science, socio-economics and politics of environment and natural resources at levels of theory, methodology and policy. 


See full project description here.

In this project, a Haitian–Cuban consortium supported by Canadian partners will use participatory action research to transform gender relations in STEM research, education and innovation at six Caribbean agricultural sciences research and higher-learning institutions (three in Haiti and three in Cuba). The overall objective is to develop skills, programs, policies and structures in Haiti to make research in the agricultural sciences more inclusive and gender sensitive.  

A South-South and South-North network for cogeneration and knowledge sharing will be established. This network will build on Cuba’s regional leadership in gender equity in STEM, drawing on a proven Cuban program, and will establish a centre in Haiti to serve as an institutional mechanism to support these efforts over time. In addition to evaluating, adapting and sharing (and improving) the Cuban methodology, the project will study the gender policies and practices of the institutions involved. Some 20 projects in agricultural sciences that are attentive to local gender-relations issues will be supported.  

Meet the team: 

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Guensly Jn Pierre is an agricultural engineer and researcher at the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences at the Henry Christophe Campus in Limonade at the State University of Haiti (UEH) and principal investigator of this consortium. His research focuses on the fields of gender, soil, management of sustainable horticultural systems, agronomy and the environment. He is a director of the UEH Soil and Water Analysis Laboratory. He holds a double master's degree and is pursuing his PhD at the Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies of Haiti, in agricultural science. 

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Bárbara Benítez Fernández is an agronomist and researcher in the Department of Sustainable Agroecosystem Management at Cuba’s National Institute of Agricultural Sciences and is the co-principal investigator of this consortium. Her research focuses on the fields of gender, agricultural innovation and sustainable agriculture. She serves as the national coordinator for the gender axis of Cuba’s “Project to Strengthen an Agricultural Innovation System in Local Development.” In 2009, she received an MSc degree in agroecology and sustainable agriculture from the Agrarian University of Havana.

Headshot Mariol Garcia

Mariol Morejón García is a professor in the Faculty of Forestry and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pinar del Río, "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca". She coordinates the agricultural science PhD program and the masters in agroecology and sustainable agriculture. She also manages the university’s Agroecology Research Group and is engaged in agroecology extension efforts with producers and students. She received her PhD in forestry sciences in 2000 from the University of Pinar del Río in Cuba. 

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Iván Castro Lizazo is professor of agricultural production and coordinator of the PhD program in agroecology at the Agrarian University of Havana, “Fructuoso Rodríguez Pérez”. He also serves as president of the UNESCO Chair in Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture. Dr. Castro holds a PhD in agronomy (2011) from the Center for Environmental Sciences at Spain’s University of Almería. His research focuses on the design and management of agroecosystems, resilience and agrobiodiversity.  

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Myriam Hyppolite is an agricultural engineer and professor at the Faculty of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine of the State University of Haiti. Her areas of interest and research are gender, agroforestry and agroecology. She coordinated a pilot project on promoting women's involvement in hut gardens in Haiti. Ms. Hyppolite obtained a master's degree in agroforestry with research at Laval University, Quebec, Canada. 

Headshot of Erin Nelson

Erin Nelson is assistant professor in the University of Guelph’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and affiliate of the Guelph Institute of Development Studies. Her research explores the development of more sustainable food systems with a focus on agroecology initiatives in Canada and Latin America. In particular, she is interested in how agroecology can contribute to ecological resilience and community wellbeing. She holds a PhD in rural studies (2012) from the University of Guelph in Canada.  

See full project description here.

In sub-Saharan Africa, various interventions to promote women’s participation in STEM fields are failing to put women in leadership positions. In Ghana and Kenya, for example, policies and legislation have been enacted in different sectors, including educational institutions, to increase female enrolment, and in workplaces to provide for equal opportunity for both men and women. Mentorship programs by both the private and public sectors are also in place to encourage females to pursue STEM careers. Though progress has been made, these efforts are still not meeting the expectations of narrowing gender inequity. These have been linked to complex issues, including gender-based norms and socio-cultural practices which need further understanding.  

This project aims to contribute to advancing women in STEM, in both industry and academia, through the development of innovative strategies that will promote women to leadership positions. Using Ghana and Kenya as case studies, the project seeks to understand why women find it difficult to rise to leadership positions in their STEM careers. The overall goal is to assess institutional efforts at gender mainstreaming in STEM and propose and test innovative strategies to promote institutional advancement and protection of women in leadership positions in academia and industry.     

Meet the team: 

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Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah is a senior research fellow of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana (UG). Her research interests are water-related diseases, environmental health and water and environmental sanitation. Her current projects are on climate change and resilience building in coastal communities and formalizing the informal sector in municipal waste management. She holds a PhD in zoology (UG) and an MPhil in public health (University of Maastricht, Netherlands).  

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Faith Njoki Karanja is an associate professor and chair in the Department of Geospatial and Space Technology, School of Engineering, at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Her research interests are the application of geoinformation in natural resource management, food security and poverty eradication. She supports and coordinates STEM mentorship programs in Kenya and holds a PhD in geoinformation from the University of Hannover, Germany.  

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Charlotte Wrigley-Asante is an associate professor with the Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana (UG). She is the current director (Ghana) of the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa and an affiliate of the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy at UG. Her main research areas include gender dynamics of poverty, empowerment and urbanization issues in Ghana. She holds a PhD in geography and resource development (UG).

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Adelina Maria Mensah is a senior research fellow and the coordinator of graduate students at the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies, University of Ghana. She is currently involved in a number of collaborative international research projects on climate change with a focus on ecosystems and the human dimensions that influence its management and sustainability. She holds a PhD in natural resources from the University of Bonn, Germany.   

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Caroline Kabaria is an associate research scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya. She specializes in geomatic engineering, with expertise in geoinformatics, remote sensing and spatial modelling. She leads work in developing methodological frameworks that integrate spatial evaluation in estimating impacts of interventions, policy regulations and social trends with a spatial dimension. She holds a PhD in spatial epidemiology from The Open University, UK. 

See full project description here.

Underrepresentation of women and lack of gender analysis in STEM research requires a holistic approach. This project focuses particularly on information technology, data science, human-computer interaction and information and communication technologies for development in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia. It will gather evidence of underrepresentation, barriers and support factors through surveys and interviews. It will also “reframe” STEM by focusing on societal relevance of data science and learning from the presence of women in various STEM fields.     

The project will develop a problem-centred curriculum and locally appropriate new pedagogies that integrate arts into STEM. The researchers will advance the use of gender analysis in STEM research, particularly design approaches in the above fields, beginning by systematically mapping the use/non-use of gender analysis for research, education and training in design. They will develop and pilot a new gender-just design methodology, which will include working with women and gender-diverse participants. The project will create and maintain a support network for women researchers in universities in these sectors and will also develop a structured mentorship scheme.  

Meet the team: 

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Ulrike Rivett is a professor of information systems at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her research interests are in the area of gender, ICT4D, co-design and application development in low-income environments. She is leading a research team that focuses on understanding context-specific information systems in rural and under-resourced environments.  

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Fiona Ssozi is a lecturer at the College of Computing and Information Sciences at Makerere University, Uganda. Her research focuses on using co-design (participatory design) to develop ICT solutions for marginalised communities and with vulnerable groups. Fiona holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Makerere University, a master’s degree in information systems from London South Bank University (UK) and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. 

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Ciira Maina currently teaches electrical engineering at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in Kenya. His current research focus is on the application of machine learning to problems in environmental conservation, health and agriculture. He received his PhD from Drexel University (US) in 2011. 

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Margaret Nyambura Ndung’u is an information scientist and the founder of INIIT-Kenya, a research and consulting firm in digital services. Her research interests are: Internet governance; gender equity; cybersecurity; and online child safety. She advocates for meaningful and affordable connectivity for all with a balanced awareness of the pros and cons of digital presence for inclusive and progressive digital transformation. She received her PhD in computer science from the University of Nairobi in 2011.  

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Chisenga Muyoya is a multi-disciplinary researcher with a deep passion for social change, with over 10 years of experience in technology and how it intersects with gender, data and development. She is a feminist data PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield (UK) and researches intersectional approaches to data. She is also the co-founder and research director of Asikana Network, an award-winning initiative that seeks to increase the participation of women and girls in technology in Zambia. 


See full project description here.

Despite the fact that almost half of the world’s population is female, women are poorly represented in the science fields. Many efforts are being made to remove barriers and close the gap created by gender disparities in STEM research. However, in West Africa, gender stereotypes in agriculture make it more difficult to eliminate bottlenecks to the effective inclusion of women in agricultural research.   

The overall aim of this project is to develop inclusive and gender-sensitive institutional strategies and policies as well as skills for research and the participation of women scientists in the agricultural sciences in West Africa. This will help promote equitable, sustainable and productive agricultural systems in support of broader economic and societal transformation. Specifically, the project aims to: (i) identify and better understand gender biases to better analyze women’s representativeness and the use of gender approaches in research and training in various agricultural sciences specialties; (ii) develop research methodology in the agricultural sciences that takes gender into account and has an impact on research outcomes; (iii) train women in agricultural specialties in which they are marginalized; and (iv) build institutional capacity for the transformation of gender relations in agricultural sciences research and training programs and institutions in West Africa.  

Meet the team: 

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Christine Ouinsavi is an agricultural engineer and currently professor at the University of Parakou (Benin). Her research focuses on silviculture and plant biodiversity conservation. She holds a PhD in forestry from the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin), after several scientific stays at the Centre d’étude de la forêt at Laval University, Canada. As a research laboratory director, she attaches great importance to mentoring young women in agricultural sciences. She is a member of the Benin Association of Women for Education, Training and Scientific Research and vice-president of the Benin chapter of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World. 

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Hadiza Kiari Fougou is a geographer, teacher-researcher and university assistant from the African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education (CAMES) and serves as the head of the Ecological and Environment Monitoring Unit at the Higher Institute in Environment and Ecology at the University of Diffa (Niger). Her research focuses on the development and management of rural areas between landscape dynamics, conflict of use and occupation of space, and she has contributed to numerous multi-disciplinary research projects in the Chadian Basin for more than 15 years. A member of the International Mega Chad Network since 2010, she is also the focal point of the Women, Science and Technology Network in Niger. 

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Béatrice Abouo Adepo-Gourène is a professor at Nangui Abrogoua University in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Her field of research is hydrobiology and population genetics, working on fish of economic interest, including aquaculture fish. Other areas of her work include the training of researchers in various fields. Her current research is oriented towards the marine environment, especially those which are subject to few scientific studies in Côte d’Ivoire.   

See full project description here.

A lack of recent and reliable data is partly to blame for gender gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Latin America. This project aims to contribute to the generation of cross-country comparable data to assess policies and interventions to reduce the gender gap in STEM, especially by increasing the number of female leaders in universities, industries and public institutions.  

The project team will map the factors that influence the career development of women in STEM, document and analyze successful and less successful initiatives and identify lessons learned. An open-data infrastructure will be used to map the information and build a platform for improved collaboration between those in education, government and industry seeking to reduce the STEM gender gap in Latin America. The platform initially will be available in three languages (Spanish, Portuguese and English) and will start with the three countries participating in the consortium – Brazil, Bolivia and Peru – with a view to future expansion to other countries in the region and elsewhere. 

Meet the team:   

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Cristiano Maciel is a full professor in the Institute of Computing and in the Graduate Program in Education, both in the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), Brazil. He is a grantee research fellow at the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development. His main research interests are in software engineering, gender, race and technologies and online education. He currently supervises PhD students in the field of STEM/STEAM. He is one of the consultants of the Digital Girls Program, in the Brazilian Computer Society, and is the general coordinator of this project with UFMT as the lead institution.  

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Nadia Rodríguez is a systems engineer and currently the director of the Systems Engineering Undergraduate Program at Universidad de Lima, Peru. Her field of interest and research are focused on women in information technology. She is currently working on two international Erasmus+ projects about innovation and sustainability in higher education. She is currently a PhD candidate in strategic management within the mention of innovation in education management from the Consortium of Universities in Peru. 

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Elizabeth Jiménez has a PhD in development economics and a MA in development and international studies, both from the University of Notre Dame in the United States. She is currently professor and researcher at CIDES-UMSA, the Graduate Program on Multidisciplinary Studies of the Universidad Mayor de San Andres, in La Paz, Bolivia. She is also the academic coordinator of CIDES’s PhD Multidisciplinary Program in Development Studies (Society, Economy and Globalization). Her research interests and publications include issues in institutional economics, climate change and sustainability, peasant issues, labor economics and gender analysis. 

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Luciana Salgado is an assistant professor at the Computer Science Department of Fluminense Federal University, Brazil, where she teaches and researches in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). She is the head of SERG.uff, a semiotic engineering research group. Her current research interests involve cultural, gender and human values in HCI; semiotic engineering theory and methods; and human-data interaction She received her PhD degree from Pontifical Catholic University-Rio in 2011.  

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Boris Branisa C. is a professor at the Bolivian Catholic University, where he is the director of the master’s program in finance. He obtained a PhD in economics from the University of Göttingen in Germany. His main research interests are development economics, applied econometrics, data science and gender issues. His work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as World Development, Feminist Economics, and Economics and Human Biology. 

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Luciana Frigo has been a professor and a researcher at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil, since 2010. She performs interdisciplinary research that includes technology and education, games, artificial intelligence, data science and women in technology. She has been coordinating a Digital Girls Project since 2012 and a National Digital Girls Program since 2019 and is the UFSC coordinator in this project.  

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Rita C. G. Berardi is professor (adjunct) at the Federal University of Technology of Paraná, Brazil, Campus Curitiba, where she teaches and researches in the field of knowledge graphs, semantic web and ontologies associated with real problems of practical application. She is co-founder of the TIChers Project, which presents computing concepts to basic education teachers in order to attract more women to computing. She received her PhD degree from Pontifical Catholic University-Rio in 2015. 

See full project description here.