Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO International Symposium and Policy Forum. Cracking the code : girls' education in STEM

Girls and women face multiple challenges that compromise their education opportunities. One area of longstanding concern is the low rate of female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and consequently STEM careers. This is a major concern, as STEM careers are often called ‘jobs of the future,’ driving social and personal well-being, inclusive growth and sustainable development, through innovation and creativity.

Why does this gender gap exist and how can it be addressed? The UNESCO International Symposium and Policy Forum, which took place 28-30 August 2017, served as a platform for debate and hands-on learning, seeking to: 

  • Present latest findings from research and practice 
  • Facilitate policy dialogue, experience-sharing and networking
  • Make the case for strengthening girls’ education in STEM subjects

The programme was based on the overarching theme of girls’ education in STEM, with four sub-themes/tracks:

  1. Building the foundations: Gender-responsive quality STEM education
  2. Changing the equation: Addressing stereotypes and bias hindering girls’ participation
  3. Gravitating into the field: Reaching out, engaging and empowering girls and women
  4. Wiring the network: Partnerships, cross-sector learning and cooperation

This event brought together nearly 350 delegates from over 70 countries including: the Ministry of education and other officials; education practitioners and educators; researchers and experts; representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations; development partners; civil society representatives; private sector stakeholders and others.

UNESCO launched its groundbreaking report, Cracking the Code: Girls’ and Women’s Education in STEM, which highlights the barriers stifling girls‘ and women’s engagement in and contributions to the STEM fields, as well as practical solutions on how these barriers can be overcome. For more on the report, please see our key findings, facts and figures, an infographic on the main findings, and a video outlining some of the key issues.

  • Read the Symposium report to learn about the summary of the sessions and overall conclusions


To share more about what you’re doing to help girls crack the code, please engage in the UNESCO #GirlsCrackTheCode social media campaign, drawing on the following tools:










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