AWfb embrace social media for communicating science

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A SOCIAL MEDIA post-training poll has revealed that 73% of women in biosciences would be willing to write and engage online audiences through Twitter and opinion pieces. This was after the science communication training conducted by African Women for Bioscience (AWfB), in partnership with ISAAA AfriCenter, indicating skill-set attainment and development of self-confidence. The training was held on June 25, 2020 and was attended by 35 invited participants from the academia, researchers, private sector service providers, the media, and professional groups.

The training focused on enhancing the capacity of women with a passion for biosciences to communicate effectively by contributing expert opinions and blogs through the virtual space. This was at the backdrop of observed disinformation about science caused by the COVID-19 infodemic. The session therefore aimed at building a critical mass of women capable of sharing accurate information by engaging with online audiences about the potential in biosciences for solving emerging societal challenges of food safety and insecurity, healthcare, and environmental conversation among others.

The AWfB chair, Dr. Margaret Karembu, decried the untapped potential and expertise among women in (and for) biosciences, yet so little of their contribution is reported. “Women voices need to be heard to impact policy and advocate for a vibrant bio-economy across Africa,” she said.

The women were taken through practical sessions on Twitter 101 using #MyOneScienceTweet and #MyScienceStory for use when writing opinion pieces or blogging. Overall, the participants confirmed the training met their expectations. In the beginning, the trainees had little to intermediary level skills on social media use and only 8% reported ever writing an opinion piece or blog story. A number of platforms and opportunities the women could use to communicate their research and enterprises were shared, which included, the monthly e-newsletter The Drumbeat, Science and She, and Science Speaks, among others.

AWfB is a network that aims to empower the African woman as a voice to impact policy and advocate for investments in biosciences for a healthy and progressive society.