CAIRO—Since she joined Egypt’s National Research Center, Amal Amin, an Egyptian researcher and professor of nanotechnology, has dreamed of achieving gender equality for female scientists in research and scientific achievements.
“The representation problem of women and youth in science, and other fields, can be summed up in the lack of fair opportunities,” she said. “We need joint cooperation devoid of gender discrimination, devoid of supporting certain groups over others, in order to make them have equal opportunities in scientific work and innovation, to help them better achieve their goals.”
Amin explained that working in the Arab world is not easy in light of the “severe shortage of research funding,” in addition to the challenges facing women because of their social responsibilities.
“Women face many obstacles in forming professional networks to enhance their efforts,” she said. “The society usually expects them to give priority to their families over their career prospects.”
Support for Young Scholars of Both Genders
Convinced that science is one of the foundations of sustainable development, Amin launched Women in Science Without Borders in 2017, an initiative to support young scholars, both women and men, in achieving their dreams and helping them overcome the challenges they face.
The initiative aims to empower young scientists to achieve their ambitions, and to encourage cooperation among science, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and decision-makers. In addition, it seeks to raise the levels of public awareness of science and science literacy, and to encourage talented young Arab scientists to remain in the region. (See a related article, “Most Arab-World Researchers Want to Leave, a New Study Finds.”)
While the initiative has encouraged dozens of scientists in Egypt and abroad, female scientists still need more support, Amin believes.
“Egypt’s educational and societal system, like that of other developing countries, is still restricting women’s scientific dreams and their choice of their field of study,” she said. “This deprives them of scholarships abroad and the ability to assume leadership roles, forcing distinguished women to exert double efforts, compared to their male peers, to fulfill their achievements.”