Barriers and Facilitators to Career Advancement of Women in Infectious Diseases of Poverty Research in Nigeria
Women scientists are commonly under-represented in all stages of their research career, thus resulting in fewer women in leadership and decision-making positions. The dearth of women scientists in infectious diseases of poverty research often results in a lack of diverse perspectives necessary for addressing gender dimensions and the burden of the diseases. This study, therefore, aimed to look at barriers and facilitators to the career growth of women scientists in infectious diseases of poverty research in Nigeria. It also aimed at highlighting the importance of positive actions such as research mentorship and adequate funding to ensure that women achieve their full potential in their research careers. This was a cross-sectional quantitative study conducted in six higher institutions in the South-West, North-Central, and North-West geopolitical zones of Nigeria. The institutions were the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, and its Kainji out station in Niger State; University Teaching Hospital, Lagos; Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis and Onchocerciasis Research, Kaduna, University of Lagos; and the University of Ibadan. The study population was made up of 134 participants, which included fifty-six (56) women scientists in infectious diseases of poverty research within the age range of 20 to 50 years. They held a minimum of master’s degrees in biomedical, socio-behavioral, and life sciences. Other participants were seventy-eight (78) graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical and life sciences, aged between 20 and 40 years. Family issues, which included balancing life and career and raising children, and gender stereotyping, such as having full responsibility for caregiving within the family, were some barriers to their career growth. Suggested facilitators to their career growth were adequate funding opportunities, including career re-entry grants, continuous and periodic participation in training, short courses, seminars, and webinars to enable them to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and techniques in their various research fields.