Malcom Urges South African Audience To Deepen Gender Equality Commitment
South Africa and other nations should deepen their commitment to gender equality, using the women's rights movement as a springboard for a global movement that promotes "the use of the talent of all people," AAAS executive Shirley Malcom told an audience in Pretoria.
Malcom, head of Education and Human Resources at AAAS, told the audience of science, engineering and technology experts that true gender equity requires more than set-aside programs for women. What is needed beyond that, she said, is a more comprehensive view of gender relations and issues in the production and use of knowledge.
"Twenty years ago, the message was in part about giving women a seat at the table and having our voices heard," she said. "But today I would say that we need to broaden the message: We need men as well as women to understand that none of us will move forward unless all of us move forward. Gender equity is not just about women.
"Equity and justice must be met by the men and women of South Africa working together as advocates and implementers to reduce the effects of poverty and to reduce the huge gaps between the richest and poorest of South Africa's people."
Malcom was the keynote speaker at a meeting Wednesday 10 August called by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), one of the largest R&D, technology and innovation institutions in Africa. The speech was entitled "Science and Technology: Meeting Human Needs."
Malcom is an international member of Science, Engineering and Technology for Women (SET4W), a South African advisory group on gender equality to the nation's minister of science and technology. She is widely regarded as a global leader in efforts to improve education and diversify the workforce in the SET fields. In 2003, she received the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award given by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. She also holds more than a dozen honorary degrees.
While AAAS's motto is "advancing science, serving society," those goals are at the heart of CSIR's mission too, she said.
The mission requires the council to consider issues of racial and ethnic diversity, disability and geographic inclusion, she told the audience. Given the additional goal of achieving a deeper gender equality, she said, the council's mandate "requires a new way of thinking and of doing business, a transformation which, in my experience with United States science and technology institutions, is very difficult to accomplish.
"It is in our global and national self-interests to promote the use of the talent of all people," she concluded. "When we look back over the history of the U.S., we can see the incredible economic gains from investing in research and development and investing in peoplemen and women of all racial and ethnic groups."
Edward W. Lempinen
12 August 2005