Realizing that the low representation of women in science and engineering is a major hindrance to global capacity building in science and technology, the IAC formed an Advisory Panel on Women for science with the mandate to review previous studies, provide examples of effective projects already implemented, and issue a set of actionable recommendations addressed particularly to the world’s science and engineering academies.
The recommendations and action items developed through the work of this Panel are presented in this report and are grouped around three themes:
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A critical omission has been the wholehearted commitment to inclusiveness on the part of the existing S&T leadership. Without support from that establishment, women can only progress so far. This is where academies can play a major role, as they represent the scientific and engineering elite and are thus held in high esteem. Moreover, their members are leaders at universities and other research institutions; and in many countries they are trusted advisers to government.
In that spirit, the InterAcademy Council (IAC) established the Advisory Panel on Women for Science with a mandate to propose what academies around the world can do to remedy the persistent and widespread underrepresentation of women in science and technology. This report is a result of that IAC initiative.
Based not only on a moral standpoint but largely out of pragmatism, the Advisory Panel concludes that the world’s science and engineering academies urgently need to take action on this problem. That is to say, a greater range of styles and points of view, made possible by a diversity of scientists and engineers, will enrich the S&T enterprise as well as the societies it serves. Moreover, global capacity building, so strongly advocated in earlier IAC reports (IAC, 2004a; 2004b), is impossible without full engagement of women at the grassroots —and without the academies’ help in making this happen. The Advisory Panel maintains that academies will exert true leadership and have considerable impact on the lives of people around the world by adopting and advocating some fundamental reforms in institutions’ routine operations.