Programme / Promotion of Arab Women in Science

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Day 2

Wednesday / 8 nov

14:30 - 16:00

Special session:
Promotion of Arab Women in Science
Venue: King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, Aqaba - Sea Floor
Abstract: 

Session Chair:

  • Prof. Wejdan Abu Elhaija

Opening speech:

  • HRH Princess Sumaya Bint El Hassan, President of Royal Scientific Society, Chair of WSF 20

The session seeks to strengthen lifelong learning trends for Arab women and highlight its mechanisms, approaches and technical platforms in order to utilize them within the contexts of education and work. Arab women have contributed significantly to scientific disciplines despite the numerous challenges faced by many Arab countries which include cultural and other constraints, but mainly the reluctance of women to opt for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) specializations. This trend, it must be admitted, is slowly but surely changing and women are more and more visible in the STEM related research and teaching. However, the pace of change is rather slow.

According to statistics published in the UNESCO SCIENCE REPORT Towards 2030, the global participation of women in science and research is rather sluggish. Women do pursue bachelor and master degrees, and in several regions even outnumber men at these levels, representing about 53% of graduates. A quick drop in numbers seems to come abruptly after this phase, at PhD level, when all of a sudden male graduates (57%) overtake women. The disparity becomes even wider at the researcher level, with men representing 72% of the global cluster. Obviously, the larger percentage of women in tertiary education does not necessarily lead to their greater visibility in research.

Statistics in the UNESCO SCIENCE REPORT Towards 2030 also brings to focus that the presence of women in science and research differs according to the field of study. Presently, women surpass men in the broad fields of health and welfare in most regions of the world, but fall behind in other disciplines of science. For instance, their absence is most notable among engineering graduates. In Jordan, women researchers make up 5.3% in the field of Engineering and Technology, 12.6 % of Natural sciences, 30.8% in Medical Sciences and 21.5 % in Agricultural sciences and 31.9% in Social sciences and humanities.

A survey of 10 prestigious journals in environmental biology, natural resource management and plant sciences studied the number of women on editorial boards and among editors from 1985 to 2013. The result was self-explanatory:  Women made up 16% of subject editors, 14% of associate editors and 12% of editors-in-chief (Cho et al., 2014).

It is clear that national universities, where future scientists and researchers are born, need to drastically rethink their vision and strategy in responding to current and future labor market demands. We need to create interrelated disciplines that combine scientific specializations with technological abilities and business management skills which help to increase the choices for women in science, and integrate them smoothly into the labor market while developing their ability to adapt to changing conditions. We need to create and enforce a comprehensive national framework for academic and career guidance that adopts advanced mechanisms and modern means that can guarantee success.

This session aims to highlight Arab women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, identify and close gaps in these areas, and focus on the potential offered by STEM fields for more dynamic women leaders and role models.

 

The session will address the following issues:

  • Highlighting mechanisms, approaches and technical platforms to utilize Arab women scientists within the contexts of education and work.
  • Highlighting Arab women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, identify and close gaps in these areas, and focus on the potential offered by STEM fields for more dynamic women leaders and role models.
  • The need to create and enforce a comprehensive national framework for academic and career guidance that adopts advanced mechanisms and modern means which can guarantee success.
  • Arab women’s participation in the private sector: Careers for women in high-tech
  • Gender issues in scientific research
  • Gender perspectives related to scientific careers
  • Women and leadership
  • Strategies to attract girls into STEM programs
  • International organizations and their policies to empower women engineers and scientists
  • The contribution of women to the region’s growth and sustainable development
  • Strategies to make women’s contributions more visible
  • Harnessing the full potential of women and overcoming barriers that continue to hinder equal participation
  • The importance of regional dialogue and cooperation to help to achieve these goals