Women for Science
Authoring Institution
Release Date
June 1, 2006

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  • Executive summary

    ‘When a man is educated, an individual is educated; when a woman is educated, a family and a country are educated.’’ Mahatma Gandhi 

    Over a century ago, women began seeking access to formal science and technology (S&T) education and to the full expression of their training and talents in subsequent careers. These quests have been a long hard fight, met by opposition sometimes blatant though often subtle. But while women have made inroads, their representation in most S&T fields— particularly at leadership levels —remains well below that of men.

    National legislation in some countries, together with many campaigns, has helped as have efforts by a few forward-looking universities and companies. But for the most part, institutions have been resistant to fully opening their doors to women in science and technology, as well as to eliminating the obstacles they are likely to encounter if they do manage to get inside. Thus women scientists and engineers drop out at the early career stage at a much higher rate than do men, and few women are found in the upper strata of the hierarchy.

    Under the circumstances, it is amazing that any women at all have been able to attain S&T leadership positions. Extraordinary individuals of sheer dedication and determination, who also were fortunate in finding a male mentor or supporter, account for the occasional success story. But given that males and females each constitute half of the human race, and given that S&T aptitude is just as likely in either gender, it makes no sense to accept just the exceptional cases as the best we can do. Full inclusion is the only acceptable outcome.

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