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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The issue of the underrepresentation of women in science and technology is not a women’s problem per se but a problem for the whole S&T community, and, as such, for the academies. It warrants an objective analysis by the academies, carried out with the same degree of rigor that member scientists or engineers would apply to questions in their own fields. Moreover, the support of the academies in presenting this problem as a challenging intellectual endeavour will be invaluable to gender-equity issues’ legitimacy and visibility. A prerequisite is that academies become more familiar with sociological research on cultural factors that influence women’s participation in science and technology (for examples, Steinpreis et al., 1999; Etzkowitz et al., 2000).
Academies are urged not only to put the issue of women in science and technology on their own research agendas but also to do so within a broader social context. They can do this, for example, by sponsoring studies, offering scholarships, inviting sociologists and anthropologists to give public lectures, and creating awards for researchers who have gained special insights into diversity matters or who have stimulated the general public’s interest in this area.
This chapter has so far addressed what individual academies can do internally. But external forces also apply, both on an academy and by an academy, as briefly discussed below.