Women in Systems Science and Gender Parity: Why and How to Democratize the "Technology, Innovation, and Society Nexus"

OMICS. 2022 Jun;26(6):329-338. doi: 10.1089/omi.2022.0055. Epub 2022 Jun 6.


A career in systems science offers exciting prospects as well as challenges around the world, which are often underexplored or unknown. Gender parity, diversity, inclusion, and equity are essential for knowledge production, systems science research, and innovation to be representative, democratic, and critically informed. By virtue of its focus on systems, omics science is ideally poised to understand and respond to systemic and structural issues that hinder gender parity, equity, and democracy in science and society. In this context, voices from women in systems science in resource-limited countries are often inaudible, a gap that this article aims to bridge. We present here some of the pressing issues and possible ways forward for equitable representation of women in science. We highlight emerging frontiers of systems science such as digital transformation, Industry 4.0, and cyber-physical systems where gender parity and equity are crucial. This article also examines some of the challenges faced by women scientists in Africa. All in all, much work is needed across communities and countries worldwide for diversity and gender equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)-based programs. Adapting a critical lens that examines power asymmetries in STEM in Africa and around the world, and new ways of thinking for bringing women scientists in Africa to leadership positions in traditional STEM fields such as computer science and engineering where large gender equity gaps exist, is a timely and principled necessity in 21st century science and society.

Keywords: STEM; democracy; diversity; gender parity; social justice; women in science.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knowledge*
  • Technology*