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Time to change the system: Researchers reveal experiences in a biased world

Compelling discussion, commentary, stories on agriculture within thriving ecosystems.

An excerpt from our upcoming podcast:

Before he moved from Nepal to the U.S. for his Master’s degree, IWMI researcher Kashi Kafle had never seen a female teacher. In one of his first grad school courses, a woman walked into the room and began teaching the class. Kafle thinks most of us grow up in a biased world, which often shapes our view toward gender, unknowingly.

“I think I started with that bias,” he told Thrive. “A professor is a male, a scientist is a male.”

International Women’s Day, March 8, is both an opportunity to celebrate the progress we have made for gender equality and a continued call for action. Thrive asked colleagues from the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to reflect on how their genders impact their jobs and more broadly, the research for development sector.

“It’s about fixing the system, not fixing women,” said Deepa Joshi in response to a question about making the development sector more inclusive. “So I think this sort of boils down to the fact that individuals can only change so much. I think there is a need for much more rigorous attention to what needs to change institutionally so that it is an enabling place for change.”

To date, 30 percent of the world’s researchers are women, according to UN Women.

Participants posed several questions to one another, including: Have you struggled with your own biases about women in science? 

Kafle says lots has changed, both within himself and in the field of science. “Progression is slow,” he said. “But it will come.”

For more reactions to this question, check out Thrive’s latest audio piece, an excerpt from an upcoming podcast episode exploring gender, identity, and representation. And to see the UN’s vision for a more equitable world and further statistics about gender disparities, check out this recent graphic story.


Quotes have been lightly edited for readability.

Thrive blog is a space for independent thought and aims to stimulate discussion among sustainable agriculture researchers and the public. Blogs are facilitated by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) but reflect the opinions and information of the authors only and not necessarily those of WLE and its donors or partners. WLE and partners are supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Contributors, including: ACIARDFIDDGISSDCSida and others.