2019.04.01.2 - Revista bionatura

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Empowerment of women in Science: Myth or Reality

 Hortensia M. Rodríguez Cabrera
Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.21931/RB/2019.04.01.2

Recent history shows that nothing has been given to women. Every step taken in the way of the tireless task of achieving than what is fair has been synonymous of strikes, mobilization and daring, in addition to countless repressive demonstrations against the pioneers in the development of labor and social policies for the workers. Latest studies show that while political equality could be achieved in just over a century, projections for women economic empowerment, from salaries to financial control over assets, are two centuries. 1 However, what about women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)? Taking into account that it is precisely in this area where future jobs and sustainable growth appear to be found, the search for solutions to the gender gap in STEM is more relevant. Although in recent years the participation of women in the scientific-technological professional environment has increased, there is still an under-representation. We have been the great ones forgotten or omitted, but women have also had, we have, and we will have much to say in terms of science.
The Institute for Statistics of UNESCO 2 provided data on the positions that women occupy in science, through research carried out worldwide. The statistics concluded that, at the global level, only 28% of scientific research positions are occupied by women. Although the number of women who enroll in the university to study careers such as Natural Sciences, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Agricultural Sciences is increasing, it is still pending in the world of science -as well as in the field of corporations- that women constitute the highest positions from researcher to project leaders.3 Despite the advances in certain senses, at a global level, there are still enough inequalities. An example of this is that, although 20% of the engineering graduates are women, they only represent 11% of the active engineers in the job market. Of more significant impact, ten years after graduating, only 3 out of 100 continue to work in fields related to STEM. 4

Hortensia M. Rodríguez Cabrera, PhD. Dean. School of Chemical Sciences & Engineering. Yachay Tech University.

A report prepared by the UNESCO (Education sector) in 2017, for girls and women around the world, advocates for their rights to quality education, full life, and a better future, but also delves into the factors that affect this gender gap. In particular, the factors include issues such as stereotypes, family beliefs, or the sociocultural context. Likewise, and contrary to what is defended, the document discards the influence of biological factors. 5
Moreover, numerous studies report that women in the STEM fields publish less, are paid less for their research and do not progress to the level of men in their careers. However, there are still very few data at the international level that show the real scope of these differences. Faced with this reality, it is clear that it is necessary to generate and promote measures that contribute to minimize/eliminate the gender gap in STEM.
The fact that one of the Sustainable Development Goals is "Gender Equality" shows us the importance of addressing gender gaps in any field and, especially, in younger generations, and above all, with girls. In this sense, I believe that positive discrimination will not be the path that takes us to occupy the place that belongs to us by right in science, and not to which we have been relegated/made invisible in so many years of patriarchal society. Any initiative or measures to reduce gender inequality will inevitably go through education with a gender perspective to the whole society, but especially to our children.
Educational systems and schools play a central role in determining girls' interest in STEM subjects, and in providing equal opportunities to access and benefit from quality STEM education. Besides, projects such as TeachHer, 6 which places the focus on the development of a STEM faculty capable of working and promoting these disciplines from a gender perspective, allowed to provided teachers with STEM training that allows the development of skills characteristic of these disciplines, working them in an equal, attractive and empowering way. Another positive example is Women In Science (WiSci), 7 a STEM summer camp for high school girls from around the world. The initiative focuses on empowering adolescents to pursue careers in the STEM field, fostering intercultural learning and the development of ideas that promote global social well-being.
Despite the remarkable advances made in recent decades, education is not universally available, and gender inequalities are widespread, often to the detriment of girls. Complex and interrelated cultural and socioeconomic factors affect not only the opportunities for girls to attend school, but also the quality of education they will receive, the studies they will be able to follow and, ultimately, their careers and life trajectories. One of the biggest concerns worldwide is the low participation and performance of girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Women must grow up, especially in the scientific world, assuming without fear of failure those roles until now mostly reserved for men. We must become principal investigators, heads of research groups, directors and why not, ministers of science and education or presidents. I advocate making more aggressive policies than those that have been done so far so that all these women who are formed in STEM occupy the highest positions and receive enough money to investigate.

1.      https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-46638119?ocid=socialflow_twitter
2.      (http://uis.unesco.org/)
3.      http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/fs51-women-in-science-2018-en.pdf
4.      https://observatorio.profuturo.education/brecha-de-genero-en-stem/
5.      Cracking the code: girls' and women's education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000253479
6.      https://observatorio.profuturo.education/blog/2018/05/22/promoviendo-politicas-de-igualdad-de-genero-desde-el-fomento-de-las-vocaciones-steam-teachher/
7.      https://observatorio.profuturo.education/blog/2018/05/04/el-imprescindible papel-de-la-mujer-en-la-ciencia-wisci-girls-steam-camp/

 Hortensia M. Rodríguez Cabrera, PhD
Decana / Dean
Escuela de Ciencias Químicas e Ingeniería / School of Chemical Sciences & Engineering
Yachay Tech University
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