The transition of women from education to full employment and decent work, with a particular focus on employment in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – CSW 58

Moderator: Ms. Neli Shiolashvili, Vice-Chair of the Commission (Georgia) Panelists: Dr. Lamya Fawwaz, Executive Director of Public Affairs at Masdar Institute of Science & Technology, Dr. Londa Schiebinger, John L. Hinds, Professor of History of Science, Stanford University Background In accordance with its multi-year programme of work, the Commission on the Status of Women at its 58th session reviewed progress in the implementation of the agreed conclusions of the 55th session in 2011 on ‘Access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work’. This panel focused on the last three recommendations of the 2011 Agreed Conclusions which are: (iv) supporting the transition from education to full employment and decent work; (v) increasing retention and progression of women in science and technology employment; and (vi) making science and technology responsive to women’s needs. Major Themes and Discussion 1) The growing representation of women in higher education has yet to translate into proportional representation in the labour market, particularly in leadership and decision-making positions.

  • Women face barriers in accessing the same job opportunities available to men, and often end up in jobs where they do not use their full potential and skills.
  • The presence of persistent workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, gender biases in performance measurement and promotion criteria, pay gaps and lack of flexible and inclusive policies to promote work-life balance further serve to perpetuate women’s lower employment participation.
  • Other influencing factors to women’s entry, transition, progression and retention in STEM sectors include young women’s limited exposure to female role models and women in decision-making positions and overall gender stereotyping.

2) Since 2011, a number of innovative partnerships and initiatives have been launched and policies and programmes adopted and implemented by Governments, civil society organisations, foundations, academia and the private sector to address challenges that women and girls face in transitioning from STEM education to STEM employment.

  • Initiatives include concrete skills development; the establishment of STEM professional networks and mentoring programmes for women; and the creation of awards to recognise positive female role models in STEM research and employment.

3) Lack of gender dimensions in STEM research, has led to the use of gender analysis and gender impact assessments in STEM research and development.

  • Efforts have focused on increasing the relevance and usefulness of advancements in science and technology for both women and men. The aim is to provide scientists and engineers with case studies and practical methods for gender analysis to stimulate the creation of gender-responsive science and technology.
  • Gender-based analysis case studies re-conceptualise how data are collected.
  • Gender – based analysis is inclusive and includes women’s participation in studies.
  • Gender medicine is a new approach that integrates considerations of both biological sex and socio-cultural gender into medical research. Researchers now understand, for example, that women have different symptoms and patterns of heart disease.
  • Gender-based analysis combines gender with other social factors, such as income, educational background, and geographic location.

5) Suggested Next Steps

  • Enactment of laws and policies supporting science and technology responsive to women’s needs. These laws and policies are important to research excellence, gender equality, discovery, and innovation.
    • Integrating gender analysis in funding opportunities. A number of granting agencies, such as the European Research Council, the Irish Research Council and the Canadian Institute of Health Research, now require applicants to integrate gender analysis into funding proposals. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation requires grant proposals for agricultural development to account for gender differences and to consider how agricultural initiatives may benefit or hinder women or men.
    • Editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals can require sophisticated gender-based analysis when selecting papers for publication.
    • Educational Institutions from elementary school to high school and graduate school should integrate the results of gendered innovations into their curricula.

Submitted By: Geeta Desai Advocacy Convener, WG-USA GWI Membership Committee