Madagascar, women in science. Photo credit: Rakotoarisoa Fifaliana Khoat-Van

Assessing the challenges and initiatives to increase women’s integration into science in Madagascar

Tinah Voahangy Martin, Hanitra Rakotonirina, Veronarindra Ramananjato, Lalao A. Ravaoarinorotsihoarana, Onja H. Razafindratsima, Mialy Razanajatovo, Ny Riavo G. Voarintsoa


We present here a commentary essay on the challenges and perspectives on the recruitment and retention of Malagasy women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). We base the essay on our personal experience as Malagasy women scientists and support the arguments with the responses of 60 Malagasy women scientists to an online survey that was shared among Malagasy scientists. We identified that the main causes for a limited number of Malagasy women in STEM relied upon traditional expectations and heavily ingrained cultural values. The situation becomes more complicated when accounting for familial constraints, financial constraints, and communication gaps between students and professors. This is obviously an unfortunate situation; however, there have been bridging-gap initiatives—financial, awareness to family pressure, and knowledge difference between senior and junior scientists—that should be continued to provide support to promising students and enhance STEM education as a tool for development in Madagascar.



Cet essai discute les défis et les perspectives dans le recrutement et le maintien des femmes citoyennes de Madagascar dans les sciences, la technologie, l’ingénierie et les mathématiques (STIM). Les arguments présentés sont basés sur nos expériences personnelles en tant que femmes scientifiques nées et ayant grandies à Madagascar. Ces arguments sont soutenus par des informations issues d’un sondage effectué en ligne auprès de 60 femmes scientifiques, s’identifiant elles-mêmes originaires de Madagascar. Les raisons pour lesquelles ces femmes sont peu nombreuses à participer activement dans les domaines des STIM à Madagascar sont liées à des contraintes traditionnelles et à des valeurs culturelles fortement ancrées depuis leur enfance. La situation se complique lorsqu’on tient compte des contraintes financières et des écarts de communication entre étudiants et professeurs. Si cette situation est évidemment regrettable, il existe cependant des initiatives visant à combler le fossé qui sont financières, ou qui s’inscrivent dans la sensibilisation à la pression familiale et à la différence de connaissances entre les scientifiques seniors et juniors. Ces encouragements devraient être poursuivis afin d'apporter un soutien aux étudiantes prometteuses et d'améliorer l'enseignement des femmes en STIM qui sont importantes pour le développement de Madagascar.


Education; Gender; Malagasy women, research, STEM

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