Women in science will be heard during the XIV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean

On January 27, 2020, in the framework of the XIV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean (Santiago, Chile, January 27-31), the parallel event and panel discussion Gender gaps in science and technology and STEM: a challenge for development will be held. Aimed at officials, scientists, activists and citizens in general, it is organized by the UNESCO Regional Office for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean, UN Women, the Organization of Ibero-American States and the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality of Chile. It will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the ECLAC Fajnzylber Auditorium.

The analysis of gender gaps in science, technology and higher education in Latin America shows that in several countries there is a panorama of relative parity in scientific and higher education institutions, while in others there is a disparity in women’s access to high-level positions in relation to men. This relative parity can be considered as the result of a long process of social and cultural change that has been faster in some countries than in others.

Unfortunately, with some exceptions, the efforts made do not effectively resolve all existing institutional and socio-cultural barriers. Horizontal and vertical segregation remains high. Female researchers continue to be underrepresented at the highest levels of the professional career and remain a minority in many fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in most countries of the region.

The event will be the occasion to discuss this panorama, hand in hand with national, international experts, both quantitatively and qualitatively, according to recent studies carried by the Ibero-American Observatory of Science, Technology and Society (OCTS-OEI), as by the organizing institutions.

What is the current situation of women in science and technology? How to increase the role of women in science to achieve sustainable development goals? What are the economic implications of gender gaps in science and technology? These, are some of the questions that will guide the discussion.

Mrs. Lidia Brito, Director of the Regional Office for Sciences, will present the STEM and Gender Advancement Project (SAGA) referring to women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, (*) – currently under implementation in Chile.

The conceptual proposal of this conversation is framed within the main general theme that summons the XIV Regional Conference: the autonomy of women in changing economic scenarios. Specifically from the perspective of science, it will contribute to the general objective of the Conference of periodically identifying the regional and sub regional situation regarding the autonomy and rights of women, and present recommendations on public policies of gender equality in compliance with regional and international agreements.

The Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean is the main intergovernmental forum on women’s rights and gender equality in the region. It is held every three years and is organized by ECLAC, with the support of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

This activity is a contribution of the Regional Bureau for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean to the full exercise of women scientists and people in general of their Right to Science, constituted as such by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which Article 27 stipulates that: “Everyone has the right freely … to participate in scientific advancement and its benefits. (…) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific (…) production of which he is the author.”, which is deepened at the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 15) and, at the Inter American level, by the American Convention on Human Rights “Pact of San José, Costa Rica” (B-32) –in particular Article 14 of the Protocol of San Salvador on Economic Social and Cultural Rights-DESC

(*) Since 2015, the UNESCO Global SAGA project has been working with governments and policy makers around the world a variety of tools to help reduce the current global gender gap in STEM fields that exists at all levels of education and research. Countries such as Gambia, Kenya, Lebanon, Sudan and Thailand have already benefited from the program, just as Argentina, Haiti, Jamaica and Uruguay have done so in Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, this innovative methodology is being implemented in Canada and Chile. The initiative has so far mobilized about 160 experts from 90 national institutions and almost 20 international institutions.