OBREAL has hosted yet another successful webinar from the series “Women, innovation and science”. This Thursday more than 60 attendees were able to listen to – and talk to – four panellists who discussed the role of women leadership in university management, innovation and research

According to OBREAL view and mission – to create interregional dialogues and produce knowledge between the Souths and the Norths – the panellists were four women from different countries and backgrounds. We had the pleasure to have together Andrea Carolina Navas Calixto, Vice ministry of Knowledge, Innovation and Productivity of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia; Lynett Ong’era, Research and Innovation Coordinator and Chair of the Gender Mainstreaming Committee at the Kenya Institute of Special Education; Andrea Foessel, Head of Innovation, Technology and Transfer Unit and Research Directorate at the University of Aysén in Chile; and Paola Joya, Coordinator of Academic Projects of the National Academic Network of Advanced Technology of Colombia.


The moderator of the webinar, the Director ASCUN and the Chair of OBREAL’s Latin America Chapter Elizabeth Bernal, approached the start of the webinar with a disruptive argument: she asked the panellists to tell the attendees about their main achievements instead of focusing on the challenges that women have when talking about leadership.

It’s interesting to highlight here the words of Lynnet Ong’era, who explained some of the projects she has been leading. She put special emphasis on one project whose goal is to ensure that children who are gifted and talented in athletics – a sport in which Kenya is “the best” as she said – are rewarded.

The pandemic was also present in this part of the webinar. Andrea Foessel stated that not only it’s an achievement on its own to survive a lockdown – many women having had to take care of their kids and still deliver at work – but also the advantage they took out of it. She said that they realised that they did not need to buy everything from outside… What’s more, they could be the providers. And that’s what they did: they designed facemasks and other health equipment and sent it to places who needed them.


The webinar had the goal of discussing leadership from the perspective of women. Paola Joya stated here the importance of networking. She acknowledged that this discourse has been had for years, but she insisted on the importance of building networks and working together to get the benefits that each region deserves.

Andrea Navas Calixto made a point about the importance of networking, too. She actually stated that the consolidation of a network has been one of her greatest achievements, since it’s a thing she believes in a lot and in which she has put a lot of effort.

Also interesting was the take of Lynnet Ong’era, who emphasised the importance of having a leadership that embraces diversity. Her point being that a leader has to make sure to incorporate people from different backgrounds, gender or religion. Women leadership, she says, it’s not only a goal but also a tool to enhance diversity and inclusivity.

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