Women’s Participation in Biological Research in Higher Education Institutions in Mozambique: A Case Study of Two Public Universities

The overall objective of this research project is to explore the reported experiences of women in academic research careers in biological sciences in Mozambican academia. The investigation focuses on the entanglement between wider society and institutional factors in shaping women’s situation in this context. This focus is motivated in part by the lack of studies of these experiences.

There is a sense that biological/life science is a field within natural science in which women are overrepresented. However, if we consider all levels of study and research, we can see that women are only well represented in the first stages or lower levels of the academic hierarchy (undergraduate and early stages of the biological research career), both in teaching and research. As we move up to higher levels the participation of women decreases drastically, usually explained by the 'leaky pipeline' metaphor.

International reports have shown that Mozambique is one of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa with low rates of researchers per capita, and women constitute a minority especially within the natural sciences. However, there is little available research about women’s participation in natural sciences in Mozambican academia. This PhD project is a version of an institutional ethnography inspired by feminist epistemologies where I examine the factors and challenges that shape women’s experiences in biological research at the Faculty of Science in two Mozambican public universities located in different social and cultural contexts.

With this study, I wish to contribute to a better understanding of the sociocultural and institutional barriers that undermine the full participation of women in biology research in Mozambican academia by exploring women’s lived experiences in that field.

The data are collected through document analysis and semi-structured interviews mainly with women at different stages in the research and teaching careers. All the empirical material are analysed using thematic analysis.

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Research questions

  • How have gender issues been part of the Mozambican higher education institutions concerns in general and regarding biological research specifically?
  • Which are the main obstacles and challenges women face in their biological research careers in Mozambique?
  • How have women reacted or responded to these obstacles and challenges?
  • How do women academics describe the effects of being involved in biological research and its impacts on their lives (financially, socially and emotionally)? 

Funding and timeframe

The project is funded by SIDA, as part of a collaborative 5-year programme led by Eduardo Mondelane University (EMU), Mozambique on Gender Mainstreaming: Developing Competencies in Higher Education for Gender Equality, Peace-building and Gender-Sensitive Research Coordinators.

Project timeframe: 2018-2022

About the researcher

Juvencio Manuel Nota

Juvêncio Manuel Nota
PhD student at the Centre for Gender Research

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Senast uppdaterad: 2021-06-17