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Research and theoretical papers
Published: 07-11-2022

Participation of African Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM): What has fertility got to do with it?

School of Economics Makerere University Kampala Uganda
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Aisha Nanyiti

Lecturer

School of Economics

Makerere University

School of Economics Makerere Uiversity Kampala Uganda
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John Sseruyange

Lecturer

School of Economics

Makerere University

gender STEM fertility panel data Sub-Saharan African countries

Abstract

The underrepresentation of women in STEM is of interest to development practitioners as it results in untapped intellect and creativity, and lower investment in human capital. Studies assessing lower participation of women in STEM mainly conceptualise and explain reasons for women’s low participation in STEM using Western data and experiences. Many of these studies highlight women’s family care roles as a key factor behind their low participation in STEM fields. The objective of this paper is to empirically examine the effect of fertility on participation of African women in STEM. We use panel data on 18 Sub-Saharan African countries for the period 2000 to 2017. We use the percentage share of female graduates of STEM from tertiary education, to measure women’s participation in STEM, and fertility rate and birth rate to measure fertility. Results show that fertility has a negative effect on women’s participation in STEM. Thus we conclude that increasing women’s participation in STEM requires policy interventions to aim at making STEM occupations more accommodating to family care responsibilities.

How to Cite

Nanyiti, Aisha, and John Sseruyange. 2022. “Participation of African Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM): What Has Fertility Got to Do With It?”. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology 14 (1):1-18. https://genderandset.open.ac.uk/index.php/genderandset/article/view/798.