There’s growing acceptance and recognition of the important role women play in the development process. Just as women are crucial to the success of family planning programs; bear much of the responsibility for food production and account for an increasing share of wage labor in Africa; they are no less important in other disciplines such as marketing research.
Marketing research as a discipline has contributed immensely to the growth of many brands and organizations turning small companies into conglomerates. Though the market research profession looks more like a male dominated field but the presence of some women who occupy driver’s seat in their various organizations and establishments seems to have neutralized this assumption about gender inequality or bias. The industry indeed in all strata has good number of men and women who know their onions and operating in the system.
Increasing women’s involvement, input and access to science and technology, research and development is essential to reducing poverty, creating job opportunities and increasing agricultural and industrial productivity. It is also key to tapping into human potential in rapidly changing areas and improving how we use technology, especially in the vital developmental areas of marketing research, food production and processing.
The continent has a great deal to do to encourage women to take up careers in science, technology and innovation – starting from school level. First and foremost, attitudes towards girls and women need to change.
Report says nearly 30 million girls on the continent between the ages of six and 15 are not in school, most of whom will never set foot in a classroom.
According to, women play an important role in food production and provision in Africa South of the Sahara (SSA), yet are underrepresented in the agricultural research community in many countries. She said fewer women than men are trained, recruited, and employed in the agricultural sciences and where they are employed; female researchers are often young and less qualified than their male colleagues.
The good news is that, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security by Nienke Beintema, head of the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative, many African countries have begun making progress towards a gender balance in their agricultural research systems.
The number of women researchers in Africa South of the Sahara rose in both absolute and relative terms between 2008 and 2014—possibly due to increased access to education for girls, which has resulted in more women being enrolled in agricultural sciences, and sciences overall. Obviously, there is much more progress to be made. In 2014, an average of only 24 percent of full time equivalent researchers in a sample of 40 African countries were female. This representation varies widely between countries. Some countries are much closer to reaching gender parity in agricultural research, particularly Lesotho, Mauritius, and Namibia, with female shares of 40 percent or higher in 2014.
Other countries fall well below the average. In Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, and Togo, between 6 and 10 percent of agricultural researchers were women.
Obstacles to progress remain formidable. They include what is known as the “leaking pipeline”: Women have a strong showing in BSc and MSc-degree level training (53 percent of the total enrollments in 2013), but this share drops at the PhD-degree level, where 43 percent of students are women, according to UNESCO. Women only account for 28 percent of the total number of researchers worldwide.
This could explain why in many African countries, university departments and research institutes are often led by men who also occupy key leadership positions of responsibility.
Women are even less represented in high-level research and management positions and, as a result, have less influence in policy- and decision-making processes.
There are a number of possible reasons why inequality persists. Some studies suggest it is linked to the general decline in numbers of young people going into the field. Other studies point to workplace, societal, and cultural challenges, including unequal access to basic education in developing countries, traditional beliefs about the role of women and girls in society, the challenge of balancing work and family, gender discrimination, and the often relatively lower salaries women receive compared to their male counterparts.
Beyond the goal of basic equity, there are many arguments for including more women in research. As the InterAcademy Council observed, more than half of most countries’ populations—their women—have traditionally been overlooked for important jobs or were deprived of the education needed to make them contenders, robbing countries of enormous reservoirs of talent in science and technology. Higher rates of female participation in science and technology have been shown to improve the quality and competitiveness of research and innovation.
Research Intelligence in this special edition features some of the outstanding women in the market research industry who have paid their dues and contributed to the development of the industry.
Elsewhere in Germany and U.K, women are occupying exalted positions of leadership and are doing well in governance. Who says we cannot have a woman president in Nigeria?
In Africa, women should not be treated as second class citizens. They should be allowed to express their views in every aspect of life as guaranteed by the constitution of each country.
If we begin to celebrate our outstanding women in market research, other people will take a queue to identify other women in different professions and mark them out for recognition. That way more women will be encouraged to contribute their best in their various areas of calling.
In this edition, we featured the views of Yemisi Makinde , Ugo Geri-Robert and Yemisi Adelugba (Faleye)