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Breaking Down Barriers: Unveiling the Hidden Challenges to Achieving True Gender Equality in STEM Education and Leadership in Kenya

Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) are essential for achieving global development goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union's Agenda 2063 (Addaney, 2018; Walsh, Murphy, & Horan, 2020). The two frameworks highlight the critical role of STI in sustainable development and Agenda 2063, in particular, places strong emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), recognising its significance in cultivating a well-prepared human capital base and promoting knowledge-based economies throughout Africa (AU, 2015).

In Kenya, the Vision 2030 economic blueprint, also recognises the importance of research and development (R&D), particularly in STEM fields, for economic progress (Government of Kenya, 2007). Therefore, in 2020, the Kenyan government launched its STI policy to promote STEM education and transition to a knowledge-based society (Government of Kenya, 2020). The policy focuses on strengthening STEM education in public universities to promote STEM education and foster transition to a knowledge-based society. The project aims to address the gaps in understanding and representation of women in STEM fields within Kenyan universities as despite government initiatives promoting STEM education and knowledge-based societies, there is uncertainty about the proportional enrolment of female students in STEM disciplines.

The project seeks to investigate gender representation in STEM, progression of female students in STEM postgraduate programs, and their presence in leadership roles within academic institutions. By shedding light on these aspects, the project aims to support Kenya's STI policy and Vision 2030 objectives of inclusive development, which include promoting gender equality and reducing inequalities.