More women scientists needed – Pandor

2012-08-31 12:55
South Africa needs more women scientists to help reduce poverty and solve health problems, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said.

“As in many other parts of the developing and developed world, women’s scientific skills and abilities are still very much underutilised in our country,” she said at a business breakfast in Johannesburg today.

“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.

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.