National Dialogue on Women in Science - Pakistan
UNESCO in partnership with UN-WOMEN, Pakistan Alliance for Maths and Science and Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) is planning to organize a “National Dialogue on Women in Science” on 11 - 12 February 2019 in LCWU Campus, Lahore, Pakistan. The conference will be inaugurated on 11 February 2019 that is International Day for Women and Girls in Science. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring this day, to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
A significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world. Even though women have made tremendous progresses towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still underrepresented in these fields.
Gender equality in STEM is not only a matter of fairness, or a basic human right. In fact, the untapped potential of brilliant girls and women who might be interested in STEM but choose not to pursue degrees or careers in these fields because of the various obstacles they may face, represents an important lost opportunity, both for women themselves as well as for the society as a whole. Gender equality should therefore be considered as a crucial means to promote scientific and technological excellence.
According to UIS data, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. UIS data also show the extent to which these women work in the public, private or academic sectors, as well as their fields of research. But to truly reduce the gender gap, we must go beyond the hard numbers and identify the qualitative factors that deter women from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Numerous studies have found that women in STEM fields publish less, are paid less for their research and do not progress as far as men in their careers. However, there is very little data at the international or even country level showing the extent of these disparities.
Similar is the case of Pakistan where women and girls are underrepresented in all STEM fields.
Some Facts about Pakistan
Education Pipeline: While more women are enrolling in university, relatively few pursue careers in research. There are many leaks in the pipeline – from stereotypes encountered by girls to the family-caring responsibilities and bias women may face when choosing a career.
- Bachelor’s students: Women 47% - Men 53%
- Doctoral students: Women 36% - Men 64%
- Researcher: Women 34% - Men 66%
Breakdown by Sector: Women researchers tend to work in the academic and government sectors while men dominate the private research sector, which offers better salaries and opportunities for advancement.
- Public Sector: Women 9% - Men 91%
- Academic Institutions: Women 36% - Men 64%
Breakdown by Field: In most countries, women focus on the social sciences and remain under-represented in engineering and technology. To level the playing field, girls must be encouraged to pursue math and science.
- Natural Science: Women 40% - Men 60%
- Engineering and Technology: Women 21% - Men 79%
- Medical Sciences: Women 45% - Men 55%
- Agriculture Sciences: Women 12% - Men 88%
- Social Sciences: Women 36% - Men 64 %
- Humanities: Women 46% - Men 54%
The overall objective of the conference is to exchange experiences on how to achieve Gender Equality in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).and contribute to progress on SDG 5 (Target 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.)
The conference is organized in five sessions on the following themes:
(1) Role Models and Gender Roles,
(2) Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship,
(3) Skills – bridging the gap,
(4) Science and Health, and
(5) SDGs and Youth
There will be 5 panel discussions on the above topics. The panelists will be women leaders of the thematic areas. The panel discussions will be followed by an interactive questions and answer sessions.
A field trip to Lahore Fort World Heritage Site will be organized on the evening of 12 February after closing session.
(1) Identification of key areas for improvement
(2) Key interventions for an action plan to improve the present situation
The participants will be leaders and mostly women in different walks of life in particular science and technology, students, teachers, representatives of government and non-government organizations.