African women driving the continent’s scientific excellence

 Women play a very critical role in our society. They are scientists, researchers, pilots, accountants, engineers, and most importantly, mothers. Regardless of their significance, women are systematically less involved in our society’s most important areas, such as STEM and research. For example, according to AAUW, women make up only 28% of the workforce in STEM worldwide. Additionally, according to UNESCO, 30% of researchers employed globally in research and development are women. Also, due to the biases around what a woman can do, their maximum potential is often hidden.    

To celebrate the International Day of Women this year, we would like to highlight some women from the AIMS Network who are changing this narrative.   

Lydie Hakizimana, CEO of AIMS.   

Lydie Hakizimana is a seasoned educator, successful entrepreneur, and the Chief Executive Officer of AIMS. At AIMS, Lydie Hakizimana is leading the team enabling Africa’s talented students to become innovators driving the continent’s scientific, educational and economic self-sufficiency.   

Lydie Founded two educational companies to provide access to education to all children. Drakkar is a pioneering Rwanda Educational Publishing House. Through Drakkar, Lydie edited and published 16 Kinyarwanda titles and distributed over one million textbooks. Today, Drakkar’s books have been supplied to 3800 primary and secondary schools, reaching three million children across Rwanda.   

 Happy Hearts Preschools is a chain of schools working hard to provide access to education to all children. Inspired by the struggle to find a suitable school for her 2-year-old son six years ago, the school now provides an inclusive environment in which children aged two and a half to five years are encouraged to explore their potential. Today, over 200 children have graduated from the Happy Hearts chains across the country. 

Lastly, Lydie recently received the Prix de la Femme Francophone de l’Année” conferred by the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF) in 2021.   

Discover more about Lydie.  

Dr Nana Ama Browne Klutse  

Nana is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of Ghana. She is also AIMS-Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Science, where she focuses on understanding the climate dynamics of Africa, climate observations and projections for climate services.   

Nana, among other things, was a Senior Research Scientist and Manager of the Remote Sensing and Climate Center at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.  

Recently, Nana contributed to the IPCC’s latest report on climate change as a lead author, making her one of the 8% African scientists who contributed to writing one of the most comprehensive scientific documents in history.  

Learn more about Nana and her research.  

Dr Sara Suliman  

Sara is currently an Assistant Professor at the Division of Experimental Medicine of the University of California and Next Einstein (NEF) Fellow. She is also a former Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Before that, she discovered and validated transcriptional biomarkers of tuberculosis (TB) progression and clinical trials for TB vaccinology. The role expanded her interest in donor-unrestricted T (DuRT) T cells, which recognize non-peptide antigens as candidate TB vaccine targets.  

Sara’s research seeks to understand why genes involved in electrolyte regulation across mammalian cell membranes might confer susceptibility to the world’s deadliest pathogens: Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  

Angela Tabiri  

Angela Tabiri is an AIMS-Google Postdoctoral Fellow at AIMS Ghana and AIMS Alumni. Angela is a very impactful young African female in STEM. Her passion for encouraging more young girls to pursue STEM as a career is impressive. In 2018, Angela founded Femafricmaths, a network of female African mathematicians transforming Africa with mathematics. Through Femafricmaths, Angela tells stories of iconic female African Mathematicians through interviews shared on social media. These interviews highlight different career options available for mathematicians and encourage young girls to ignore all the biases around being a woman in STEM and choose it as a career.   

Nature has featured Angela as one of the few African women inspiring young girls in Africa to pursue careers in unconventional fields.  

Learn more about Tabiri.   

Abigail Annkah   

Abigail is a Research Software Engineer at Google and AIMS Alumni. At Google, she uses artificial intelligence (AI) to improve maps in Africa – a project that she is so passionate about. Abigail’s love for mathematics brought her to AIMS, where she joined our African Master’s in Machine Intelligence (AMMI) in the pioneer class. This experience led her to Google Research, Accra, as an AI Resident.  

 “At AIMS, I developed an interest in using data-driven approaches to solving pressing societal challenges, leading me to work on biochemical image segmentation for my Master’s thesis. I then joined the Google AI Centre in Ghana as an AI resident and, after two years, gained a full-time role as a research software engineer. There, I used my expertise in computer vision to help build better image segmentation models that led to significant improvement of Google maps,” Abigail.   

In conclusion, according to the World Bank, females represent 30% of students graduating from STEM fields in Sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, scientific work and technological innovation are missing women’s invaluable perspectives and critical contributions. This also means that most women will remain in jobs that are likely to be replaced by technology in an increasingly technology-driven world.  

AIMS is committed to increasing the participation of African women in science. We recruit the brightest young Africans to join our Master’s programs; 30% of every new cohort must be women. If you’re a young girl and find the above stories inspiring, you too can achieve what these females achieved. Start by applying for our Master’s programs here.   

Happy International Women’s Day to all the African women championing scientific excellence regardless of the challenges they face every day!