Fulfilling science’s promise for gender equality
Despite progress in women’s education, a persistent gender gap exists across all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) globally.
According to the United Nations, only one in five professionals in cutting-edge fields like artificial intelligence is a woman. Despite the demand for skills in Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, women represent only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of graduates in computer science and informatics. Even when entering STEM fields, female researchers often face shorter, less well-paid careers, limited representation in top journals, and barriers to promotion.
Currently, women remain significantly underrepresented, making up just 29.2 per cent of all STEM workers, compared to 49.3 per cent across non-STEM occupations. Hostile work environments remain pervasive and deter women’s career longevity.
A 2022 study conducted in 117 countries found that one in two women scientists reported experiencing sexual harassment at work, with 65 per cent of respondents reporting that this negatively impacted their career.
A 2021 study reporting on the inclusion and participation of women in more than 120 science organizations that are coordinated at a global level finds that women are still under-represented. It calls for the establishment of a coalition on gender equality in global science to ensure a transformative action agenda.
The study was coordinated by GenderInSITE (Gender in Science, Innovation, Technology and Engineering), in partnership with the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the International Science Council (ISC). It reports on the results of surveys conducted amongst science academies that are members of the IAP and ISC, as well as amongst international disciplinary unions and associations that are members of the ISC.
Together, the IAP and ISC represent over 250 unique organizations globally, and cover science in its broadest sense, being inclusive of natural, engineering, medical, social sciences and the humanities. This is a powerful nascent coalition for gender equity in science that seeks to build capacity and impact through expansion of the network.
Closing the gender gap in STEM is essential for harnessing diverse talent to address pressing global challenges, including healthcare and climate change. Increased participation from women brings diversity, fresh perspectives, talent, and creativity to research and scientific endeavors.
Both representation and retention of women are essential for the science and digital technology sectors to be more creative, innovative, and profitable, reflecting issues that matter to women.
Currently, more than 9,200 CEOs across 160 countries have committed to implement policies and practices that attract, retain and promote women into leadership positions, including in science and broader STEM fields, fostering an inclusive corporate culture, eliminating stereotypes and discriminatory practices.