STEM and Gender Advancement (SAGA)

Context

In recent years, the number of women involved in STEM has significantly increased. However, despite these encouraging signs, women are still under-represented in science, as women account today for only about 30% of the world’s researchers and even for lower percentages at higher decision-making levels, according to recent figures from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

It is widely accepted that creating knowledge and understanding through science will allow us to find solutions to today’s acute economic, social and environmental challenges, in order to achieve sustainable development throughout the world. Science therefore cannot continue to deprive itself of the full scientific potential of over half of the planet’s population. Gender equality in STEM is a matter of principle, a basic human right; it should also be considered as crucial means to promote scientific and technological excellence.

The way in which data related to STEM are currently predominantly collected renders women and their concerns, needs and responsibilities relatively invisible, and the growing demand for cross-nationally comparable statistics on the representation of women in STEM is only slowly starting to be met. As a consequence, the lack of data and indicators, as well as of the availability of analytical studies, can obstruct the design, monitoring, and evaluation of policies aimed at successfully tackling gender inequality in STEM. There is a need for effective STI policies to be evidence-based and hence to be supported by relevant statistics and indicators through the development of new indicators and methods to collect and analyse sex-disaggregated data on women’s participation in STEM around the world. This will contribute to the elaboration and implementation of actions and programmes relevant to gender equality in STEM in schools, universities, research institutions, governments, and industries. In this context and given its mandate in science and its global priority on Gender Equality, UNESCO has a key role to play in taking up these issues and working to overcome gender disparities in access to, influence over, and use of STEM.

For more information, please contact us at saga(at)unesco.org