International Panel On Women in STEM Addresses Gender Disparities, The Women in STEM – An International Comparison on Current Challenges and Opportunities panel offers suggestions for a comprehensive strategy that are applicable to a variety of social strata and life stages.
Women In STEM
The Office of Global Communications at the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan hosted a webinar on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, titled “Women in STEM – An International Comparison on Current Challenges and Opportunities” in honor of International Women’s Day, which fell on March 8th. It finished up with the suggestion that a comprehensive methodology should be taken to make foundational changes as well as social and cultural changes including families, virtual entertainment, and all degrees of school systems and the work market by means of drives that are reliable across this multitude of various fragments of society and across various phases of individuals’ lives to address the worldwide test of orientation differences in Science, Innovation, Designing and Math (STEM).
Increasing female STEM participation is a global challenge. The Japanese government also recognizes its significance and made this an important topic at the World Assembly for Women (WAW!) – an annual international conference held in Tokyo in December 2022 with the goals of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. The purpose of this webinar is to enhance the WAW! discussion even further. Conference held at the start of Japan’s presidency of the G7 this year.
Participants of this online event came from a wide range of countries and industries, including business, academia, NGOs, educational establishments, and students.
Ms. Yumiko Murakami, General Partner at MPower Partners, moderated this webinar and welcomed international experts in STEM as follows:
- Dr. Rie Kijima, Co-founder of SKY Labo/Assistant Professor and Director of Initiative for Education Policy and Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto
- Dr. Nergis Mavalvala, Dean of MIT School of Science/Curtis (1963) and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics
- Ms. Debora Comini, Director of UNICEF Regional Office for East Asia and the Pacific.
The panelists discussed the current state of the two pre-defined issues of 1) the low proportion of women who study STEM and 2) the low participation of women in the STEM labor market as well as the possible causes of the underrepresentation of women in STEM following Ms. Keiko Okada’s opening remarks.
Regardless of country, “changing mindsets” was a common theme among the primary causes of the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. Whether non-cognitive internal factors like low self-efficacy (the belief that one can succeed), low self-concept (the way one sees oneself in relation to other people), and low motivation among girls and women themselves, or external stakeholders like the impact of systemic biases and discrimination comprise these mindsets; changing one’s mindset seemed to be a big part of overcoming this obstacle. In addition, underrepresentation was primarily caused by factors specific to developing nations, such as weak educational foundations for girls and boys as a result of difficulties obtaining an education.
A panel discussion on best practices and solutions to this problem followed the individual presentations given by the speakers.
- Dr. Kijima emphasized the importance of close peer mentors, female STEM role models, creating safe learning environments, and cultivating an atmosphere that encourages risk-taking in addressing the aforementioned issues. She offered programs that function like a revolving door, allowing anyone to experience some aspects of STEM, as well as the significance of enacting policies that encourage various institutions to promote gender equality as recommendations. more read about: women in stem
- Dean Mavalvala cited the “Maria Klawe Experiment,” which, by rebranding, visualizing success, and “making it matter” (for example, by connecting efforts to social impact), quadrupled the number of female computer science majors at Harvey Mudd College. Her suggestions included ensuring committed leadership at all levels, not only through the provision of incentives but also through the utilization of resources and the presentation of the economic justifications for the advantages of female participation.
- Ms. Comini talked about UNICEF’s “Skills4Girls” program, which helps young girls learn STEM skills and encourages them to work in skilled jobs more. She advised addressing this challenge by working from both an economic and political perspective, employing solid, up-to-date data and collaborating with policymakers to explicitly incorporate gender equality and access to education, including STEM, into national development plans.
The webinar came to a close with the aforementioned recommendations after the panelists engaged with the attendees in a lively Q&A session.