Experimental Lakes Area to partner with African researchers in 2022
Program aims to bring up to 12 young women to Experimental Lakes Area
A new program in northwestern Ontario could bring up to a dozen young, female scientists, who usually conduct their research on the other side of the globe, to the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) .
The African Centre of Aquatic Research and Education, which is affiliated with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) , will have researchers work on an exchange of sorts at the ELA, also operated by the IISD.
The program is a first, starting up about two years ago, but was halted by the pandemic, as those taking part in the ten-month course were unable to travel.
"There's a lot of gender inequality in Africa, but especially when you get to the sciences. So, what we've seen in Africa is there is a big disparity and within that disparity is an entire perspective that you're losing from these women," said Ted Lawrence, the executive director of the African Centre of Aquatic Research and Education and a senior policy advisor for the IISD.
The researchers, he said, all have experience working on the African Great Lakes — a chain of seven lakes that contain 25 percent of the world's freshwater.
"The African Great Lakes are tropical in nature, and ours are temperate. But, a lot of the approaches in science are similar and that's where we're making the connections. How do we approach these large bodies of water, with what equipment, with which direction."
The overall goal of the program is to progress the studies and careers of young, female scientists and to give them more perspective of how women are involved in the sciences.
"It sounds like we're giving the women a lot, but these women, these students and early career women will be bringing the experience and perspective of working on large African lakes to our experts here, so it will be a give and take."
"And we're going to expose them to some of the infrastructure and the sciences and approaches that we have on the North American Great Lakes, and the lakes in the Experimental Lakes Area. So we hope this will be the first time that we have this massive influx of African scientists."
Lawrence will make a presentation Thursday night to Rotary clubs in Dryden, Kenora and Sioux Lookout, which could lead to the club's sponsoring some of the young women to come to Canada as part of the program.