Dr. Bernice Yram Danu, a Lecturer at the University of Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday called on the government to support more women to pursue careers in optics and photonics to bridge the existing gender gap.
As Ghana joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s celebration of the International Day of the Light, Dr. Danu said the nation ought to showcase, recognize and acknowledge her successful female scientists and engineers to inspire female students to study the subject.
The day which falls on May 16 every year was instituted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and celebrated annually to increase public understanding of the significance of light in science, culture and the arts.
It also honours the contributions of researchers, creators and engineers who have made outstanding contributions to the realm of light.
Dr. Danu made the call whiles addressing some students and staff teachers of the Twene Amanfo Senior High and Technical School in Sunyani to mark the celebration, organised by the Smart Innovation and Digital Hub Africa (SIDH-Africa) on the theme: “the Significance of Light for Sustainable Development”.
SIDH-Africa is a non-governmental organisation committed to harnessing the power of technology for social change.
Dr. Danu said with the support from the government and development partners Ghana could possibly increase her visibility and representation of women in optics and photonics, stressing that “we can also provide mentorship and networking opportunities for women in the field.
This would greatly help them to “navigate the challenges they may face and connect them with other women who can offer support and advice”.
“The nation can also support research that focuses on issues related to women and gender in optics and photonics. This includes research on the role of gender in the design and application of optical technologies, as well as research on the impact of gender on the career paths of women in optics and photonics”, Dr. Danu said.
She said promoting diversity and inclusion in optics and photonics was not just a moral imperative, but also a scientific and economic imperative, saying “by increasing the representation of women and creating a culture that values diversity and inclusion, we can
foster a more innovative, productive and successful field”.
In a speech read on his behalf by Dr. Henrietta Donkor, a lecturer at the Computer Science Department of the Sunyani Technical University (STU), Dr. Owusu Nyarko-Boateng – Executive Director, SIDH-Africa, said in addition to providing illumination, light remains essential in
many other areas, including entertainment, energy, communication and medicine.
He said the impact of light has been enormous, from the invention of lasers to the usage of fiber optics in communications and underlined the importance for the nation to honour the people who had made outstanding contributions to the field of light.
“These people have changed the way we think about light and created new opportunities for investigation and learning. They have expanded the field to what is conceivable, and their efforts have opened new paths for coming generations”, he said.
Dr. Nyarko-Boateng said light is a fundamental element in human lives and plays a critical role in various fields such as science, technology, art and culture.
Highlighting on some of the importance, he said numerous scientific achievements, like fiber optics, solar panels and lasers, would not be conceivable without the presence of light, saying advanced imaging technologies had made it possible for doctors to identify and treat illnesses more precisely and successfully.
Light is an essential element of the creative process for artists, photographers, and designers, Dr. Nyarko-Boateng said, adding that, light could create mood, depth, and texture, and could transform a space into an immersive experience.
Dr. Nyarko-Boateng said it was also imperative for the nation to recognize the importance of ongoing research and innovation in the field of light.
“Researchers continue to explore the mysteries of light and its behavior, paving the way for new discoveries and advancements and we must continue to support and encourage research in this area to unlock the full potential of light and its impact on our lives”, he said.