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Honouring the waymakers for ladies in science: Meet post-doc Eponle Usoh Sylvie



Eponle Usoh Sylvie is a post-doctorate analysis fellow at CIFOR-ICRAF in Cameroon. She has a bachelor’s diploma in regulation and ladies’s research; a grasp’s diploma in girls’s and gender research, and a PhD in gender and improvement from the College of Buea, Cameroon. She is engaged on a mission known as Land Restoration for Publish-COVID Rural and Indigenous Girls Empowerment and Poverty Discount in Cameroon (LRIWEP), inside which she is conducting a literature overview; defining analysis questions and goals; and creating an in depth method to methodology, information assortment, and evaluation from a gender perspective.


Q: Why did you change into a scientist? What motivates you in your work?

A: Once I was 16 and I enrolled in secondary faculty, I used to be put in ‘A class’, made up of superior college students, in comparison with the B class which was made up of common college students. Most boys in my class mentioned that the primary 10 positions [for grades] within the class ought to solely be boys, and no lady ought to be amongst them. I took that as a problem, and made it to the 4th or fifth place. Many women weren’t all for science, as a result of they mentioned it was too obscure. A few of us engaged, nevertheless, and the boys mocked us, saying we’ll drop out as time goes on. We had been simply 5 women within the class who had been all for science. When my faculty welcomed a visitor speaker, who launched into her presentation with a name for ladies to enroll in science, the impression she made on me was life-changing.

What impressed me was the zeal to vary the narrative – that girls who menstruate can not assume on the identical time. What I loved about studying science was not simply the facility of scientific discovery, however utilizing that info to make the world a greater place. That concept has change into the idea for my analysis immediately. I’ve advocated and lobbied for ladies’s rights to equal alternative in all spheres of life, and l lay a powerful emphasis on analysis to determine constraints to girls’s enrolment in science, and getting that info out to the general public in order that the variety of girls scientists will improve.

I used to be motivated to deconstruct scholarship, and reconstruct it from a feminine perspective. Science has at all times been androcentric – written from “his voice” – so there’s a have to hearken to “Her Story” and never “His Story” on a regular basis. Now, I’m motivated by working on this setting as a junior staff member, realizing that I can be taught from these in senior positions within the group – particularly specialists in my subject. I like a problem, and I always set targets for myself to realize, each in work and in my private life. I’m not snug with settling, and I’m at all times in search of a chance to do higher and obtain greatness.


Q: Are you able to share an instance of a barrier you overcame to change into a scientist? What about a chance (state of affairs or individual) that pulled you ahead in your profession?

A: Limitations I overcame to change into a scientist embody cultural beliefs and patriarchal values; dangerous and incorrect gender stereotypes; and poverty. Once I accomplished main faculty, most of our neighbours despatched their lady kids to be taught a commerce, stating that in the event that they despatched them to high school they’d return pregnant. My mom was a poor widow, and singlehandedly had seven kids to cater for. One morning she sat me down and mentioned she didn’t have cash for me to proceed with my training, so I need to keep at house for a 12 months to be taught a commerce, whereas she struggled to lift cash and enrol me the next 12 months. I can vividly bear in mind it was a market day, and I stood in public and cried and rolled on the ground as if I had misplaced somebody.

Fortuitously for me, that act resulted in an enormous success. The secretary of the one authorities faculty again then in my neighborhood approached me to search out out what the issue was. I defined all the pieces to her, and he or she got here into our home and promised to assist. She informed my mom that I used to be very clever, and mustn’t keep at house or be taught a commerce. She mentioned she would hold me in class and canopy for me till my mom might elevate cash for my faculty charges. Every time I used to be despatched out of sophistication for varsity charges, I went to her workplace, and he or she introduced me again to class. When issues obtained worse, my elder brother dropped out of faculty and determined to help my mom to allow us to remain in class. I can say that he and the secretary made large sacrifices for me to realize my profession. Additionally, once I was in my remaining 12 months of highschool, I misplaced my mom. My elder brother did all the pieces doable to make sure I enrolled in college, as a result of I needed to change into an awesome lady and inform my story – to inspire others not to surrender in life, however to maintain striving and altering narratives. Lastly, whereas the neighborhood the place I grew up helped me to realize my targets, I equally observe that empowerment shouldn’t be one thing that may be carried out to or for anybody. Everyone seems to be liable for their very own empowerment.

   Focus group dialogue with Bezang males of Ngandie camp, Ngambe-Tikar, Cameroon. Picture: Eponle Usoh Sylvie

   Focus group dialogue with girls in Badankali village, northern Cameroon. Picture: Eponle Usoh Sylvie /CIFOR-ICRAF

Q: What does it imply to you to be a lady in science?

Eponle: Being a lady scientist is a demanding and difficult project. Enrolling in science, I’ve proven different women that it’s doable, they usually can do it. I’m lucky to exist in an period the place a lot of consciousness elevating and sensitization has been carried out on girls’s enrollment in science. Although the hole persists, I’m constructive that issues will get higher sometime. Thus, being a lady scientist to me means taking the result in make girls seen within the subject and guaranteeing equal alternative for all: not sitting and anticipating others to battle for change, however becoming a member of forces to make it occur within the spirit of sisterhood. It means I’ve a task to play within the change I need to see, and an obligation to make manner as a world changer for the following technology by encouraging them to maneuver past social expectations and stereotypes to realize their targets. The one option to obtain that is to steer by instance. The time has come: let’s take the bull by the horns: “Let’s go girl, you can do it!” I hail all the ladies scientists who acted as a waymakers.


Why is it vital to have girls main in science? Do you could have a particular instance or story you possibly can share?

Eponle: There’s an excessive amount of analysis out there on the function performed by girls in science, expertise, engineering, and arithmetic (STEM). I imagine that it is vitally vital for ladies to steer in science as a result of they’ll function function fashions to youthful generations and might higher articulate on behalf of girls throughout coverage formulation. Additionally, I imagine that if girls take the lead in science, it’ll encourage different girls not to surrender, however enter technical areas which have traditionally been male-dominated, to generate a extra numerous image. Girls, in my perspective, ought to take the lead in science to vary the narrative, social expectations, and stereotypical perception that science is a male area.

I imagine that the presence or absence of girls function fashions in science influences girls’s profession preferences. Publicity of girls STEM specialists to girls college college students might improve constructive attitudes, vanity, and curiosity within the self-discipline: there’s a want for such function fashions and mentors.

That is the third in a collection of Q&As with girls scientists on the Heart for Worldwide Forestry Analysis and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF). Forward of the Worldwide Day of Girls and Ladies in Science (11 February), we requested them what motivates them, any obstacles they overcame, what it means to them to be a lady in science, and why it’s vital for ladies to have equitable positions and enough illustration within the sector. Learn the Q&As with bioenergy scientist Mary Njenga and meals and diet scientist Mulia Nurhasan.  

For extra info on Eponle Usoh Sylvie’s work, please contact her at

For extra details about CIFOR-ICRAF’s work on gender equality and social inclusion (GESI), please contact Elisabeth Leigh Perkins Garner ( or Anne Larson (

The put up Honouring the waymakers for ladies in science: Meet post-doc Eponle Usoh Sylvie appeared first on CIFOR Forests Information.

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