UN: UNESCO underlines need for more women in engineering, computer science

New York, US (PANA) - A new UN report on Friday stressed the need for more women engineers and computer programmers to boost their participation in engineering and computer science around the world.

The "UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030" was released by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), ahead of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, marked annually on 11 February.

"An analysis of computer science shows a steady decrease in female graduates since 2000," the report said, noting that "this should be a wake-up call."

According to UNESCO, female participation is falling in a field that is expanding globally as its importance for national economies grows, penetrating every aspect of daily life.

It, however, said the share of women working as engineers is higher in some developing countries, with increases observed in sub-Saharan Africa and Arab countries, more than the developed countries.

In her message, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called for empowerment of women and girls to learn and research in sciences, engineering and computer science.

"We must raise awareness about the work of women scientists by providing equal opportunities for their participation and leadership in a broad spectrum of high-level scientific bodies and events," Ms. Bokova said, calling also for mentoring opportunities for women.

In 2016 UNESCO and the L'Oreal Foundation launched the manifesto for Women in Science, to engage governments and stakeholders in promoting the full participation of girls and women in science.

According to the report, women now account for 53 per cent of world's bachelor's and master's graduates in science and 43 per cent of PhDs.

Since 2000, there has been a steady increase in female graduates in agricultural sciences, likely driven by an emphasis on national food security and the food industry.

In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, female graduates in agricultural science have been increasing steadily, with women comprising 40 per cent or more of graduates in Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

In research, however, women still lag men at 28 per cent.

The report said figures fluctuate geographically with women in Southeast Europe at par with men, and at 44 per cent in Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The numbers are particularly low in the European Union, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

On its part, UN Women noted that science and technology offer unique opportunities for women and girls to overcome a number of the barriers they typically face.

It said that mobile money has empowered and transformed the lives of millions of women previously thought to be “unbankable” by enabling them to directly access financial products and services.

"Women with skills in science and technological fields can help improve vital infrastructure such as water and power supply, and in doing so ease the responsibilities that women and girls carry of providing unpaid care work for the household.

"Similarly, Internet and mobile technology can help bridge barriers to education for the 32 million girls who are out of school at the primary level and the 29 million at the lower secondary level," UN Women stated.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  10Feb2017

10 february 2017 19:10:12




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