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OWSD joins Gender Gap in STEM Project

June 25, 2018

An ICSU-funded project will assess the gender gap in STEM fields worldwide and propose interventions to close it.


On 11-12 June 2018, OWSD took part in the second coordination meeting for the project, “Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences: How to Measure It, How to Reduce It?” This project, which is funded by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and organized by a collective of scientific unions, was organized in 2017 with the goal of producing sound data to inform interventions that ICSU and the participating unions can undertake to promote girls and women in STEM fields. As a partner in the project, OWSD hopes to provide strategic insight into how it can achieve this goal and assist in project dissemination.

During the second coordinating meeting, the project partners discussed the progress on each of the three components of the project to-date:

  •  The Global Survey of Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Scientists - The survey is planned to collect data on women's and men's development of interest in science, experiences in education and careers, family support, access to resources needed to conduct science, and opportunities to contribute to the scientific enterprise. Contrasts and common ground across regions and cultures, less developed and highly developed countries, men and women, mathematical and natural sciences, will be highlighted. The survey can be taken in any of seven languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese), and is hoped to reach at least 45,000 respondents in more than 130 countries. The survey takes only about 15 minutes to complete, and can be taken at:
  • Joint data-backed study on publication patterns - A recent study on publication patterns in mathematics showed a systemic gender imbalance; though women mathematicians grew greatly in number over recent decades, they continued to publish less than men at the beginning of their careers, and to leave academia at a higher rate. Using a similar methodology, the project will study publication patterns in other fields including physics, chemistry, astronomy, and if possible biology and computer science, across countries and regions, to understand common and discipline-specific issues and identify specific areas of inequality at which to target recommendations.
  • Database of good practices - There are many initiatives around the world that aim to enhance the participation of girls and women in science and mathematics. Which ones work? What is the evidence for effectiveness? Can effective practices developed in one place be used in other contexts? An online database of good practices will aggregate and organize information on existing initiatives, and analyze their effectiveness where possible to provide guidance and support for the development and evaluation of new initiatives. The database will be hosted by IMU.

Following the discussions during the coordinating meeting, OWSD was able to identify the best ways in which it can help in the dissemination of the survey, as well as in gathering information on gender-in-STEM initiatives from its network to ensure the inclusion of examples from the developing world. 

The project's findings and recommendations will be presented at a final meeting and conference in fall 2019 at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. More information about the project outcomes will be made available as it develops. 

Partners in the project are: 

Lead partners

Supporting partners

Visit the project website for more details: