Header Catrina

Mexico Symposium on Women for Science

Mexico City - April 2009
IANAS "Women for Science Symposium"
 
The IANAS "Women for Science Symposium" was hosted by the Mexican Academy of Sciences in Mexico City on April 20-21, 2009. The symposium was organized with the support of the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP), the Mexican National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the ICSU Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ICSU-LAC).

 

Understanding that regional low representation of women in science and engineering is a major hindrance to regional capacity building in science and technology, discussions focused on the analysis - through a regional perspective - of political, legislative and cultural factors limiting and/or encouraging the access of women to science and technology; successful experiences favoring gender equity in research and development; and the elaboration of a set of actionable recommendations to be addressed to the Science and Engineering Academies in the region aiming inclusion and gender mainstreaming in the Americas.

The symposium assembled 31 participants from 16 countries, covering North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean region. The rich mix of participants coming from academia, government, international organizations and the private sector contributed to the successful achievements of the proposed objectives. Representatives from the Third World Organization for Women in Science (TWOWS) and the Gender Advisory Board (GAB), as well as the two co-chairs of the IAC Women for Science Advisory Report ? Johanna (Anneke) Levelt Sengers (USA) and Manju Sharma ( India ) ? also attended the workshop.


Agenda - IANAS "Women for Science Symposium"

April 2009
Mexico City, Mexico

 

MONDAY APRIL 20th

9:00-9:30      Opening Ceremony

9:30-10:15    Invited Lecture
Johanna Levelt Sengers  Member, US National Academy of Sciences
        Member, US National Academy of Engineering
        Co-chair InterAcademy Council Advisory Report 
        "Women for Science" (2006)

10:15-10:30  Refreshments

10:30-12:15 Round Table I. Gender and Public Policies in Education, Science and Technology. Improving gender equity.
(four presentations of 20 minutes and open debate)

Chair: Juan Pedro Laclette (Mexico). Co-Chair IANAS.

  1. Alice Abreu (Brazil). Director of the Regional Office for Latin America and   the Caribbean, International Council for Science (ICSU).
  1. Nadia Ghazzali (Canada).  Professor at Université Laval.
  1. Diana Maffía (Argentina).  Universidad de Buenos Aires.
  2. Sophia Huyer (USA). Director of Women and Global Science and Technology (WIGSAT) and Executive Director, Gender Advisory Board, UN Commission On Science and Technology for Development

.
Rapporteurs: 
María Carlota Monroy Escobar (Guatemala).  Professor at Universidad de San Carlos.
Angela Stella Camacho (Colombia).  Professor at Universidad de los Andes. 

12:15-12:30  Refreshments

12:30-14:15 Round Table II. An agenda for change: removing obstacles for a career in Science and Technology
(four presentations of 20 minutes and open debate)

Chair: María del Carmen Samayoa (Guatemala). President of the Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences.

  1. Lilian Wu (USA). Chair of the National Academies Committee in Science and Engineering.
  2. Gloria Bonder (Argentina). Regional Chair of UNESCO’s Latin American Network of Women Science and Technology.   
  3. María Teresa Ruiz (Chile). Professor at Universidad de Chile.
  4. Marcia Barbosa (Brazil). Profesor of Instituto de Física - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Rapporteurs:
Mayra de la Torre (Mexico). Third World Organization for Women in Science; Member of Latin America & Caribbean Executive Board.
Gioconda San Blas (Venezuela). Professor at Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas.

14:15-15:30 Lunch

15:30-17:30 Round Table III. Increasing the visibility of women in Science in Latin America and the Caribbean: role models, mentoring and awards.
(four presentations of 20 minutes and open debate)

Chair: Venecia Álvarez Peña de Vanderhorst (Dominican Republic). Ambassador  of Science, Technology and Environment.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  1. Elsa Quiroga (Bolivia).  President of the Bolivian Organization of Women in Science and Vicepresident of the Third World Organization for Women in Science in Latin America & Caribbean
  2. Mona Nemer (Canada). Vice President, Research.  University of Ottawa.
  3. Lilliam Margarita Alvarez (Cuba). Director of Science at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.
  4. Constanza Moreira (Uruguay). Professor at Universidad de la República. 

Rapporteurs: 
Norma Blázquez (Mexico).  Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Science and Humanities at UNAM.
Marta Valdez Melara (Costa Rica). Centro Nacional de Innovaciones Biotecnológicas. 

 

TUESDAY APRIL 21st.

9:30-11:30 Round Table IV. Improving the collection of gender disaggregated data for S&T policy making.
(four presentations of 20 minutes and open debate)

Chair: Judith Zubieta (Mexico). Researcher at National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

  1. Manju Sharma (India). President and Executive Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Research, Gandhinagar and former Secretary of Biotechnology.
  1. Jorge Martínez Stack (Mexico). Advisor to the General Directorate for Institutional Evaluation, UNAM.
  2. Tatiana Láscaris (Costa Rica). Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica
  3. Lena Ruiz (Mexico). President of Grupo Mujer Ciencia, UNAM

Rapporteurs:
Nicole Bernex (Peru).  Professor at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.
Helen Marjorie Jacobs (Jamaica). Professor at The University of the West Indies.

11:30-12:00  Refreshments

12:00-14:00 Parallel Sessions based on the 4 Roundtables
Chairs: Rapporteurs of the Roundtables

14:00-15.30 Lunch

15:30-17:30 Plenary Session
Chair: Roberto Markarian. University of La República, Uruguay.

  1. Rapporteurs Report
  2. Strategies for the future

17:30  Closing Ceremony


IAC Women for Science Advisory Report


List of Participants - IANAS "Women for Science Symposium"

ARGENTINA

° Gloria Bonder

Regional Chair UNESCO's Latin American Network of Women Science and Technology 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Diana Maffía
Professor Universidad de Buenos Aires
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

BOLIVIA

° Elsa Quiroga 
President of the Bolivian Organization of Women in Science 
Vicepresident of the Third World Organization for Women in Science by Latin America & Caribbean 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

BRAZIL

° Alice Abreu
Director of the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean , International Council for Science ICSU)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Marcia Barbosa 
Professor of Instituto de Física - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Marcos Cortesao
Executive Secretary InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS) Brazil 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

CANADA  

° Nadia Ghazzali 
Professor at Université Laval
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Mona Nemer 
Vice President, Research. University of Ottawa 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

CHILE  

° María Teresa Ruiz 
Professor at Universidad de Chile 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

COLOMBIA  

° Angela Stella Camacho 
Professor at Universidad de los Andes 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

COSTA RICA

° Marta Valdez Melara 
Director. Centro Nacional de Innovaciones Biotecnológicas 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Tatiana Láscaris 
Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

CUBA

° Lilliam Margarita Álvarez 
Director of Science at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC  

° Venecia Álvarez Peña de Vanderhorst 
Ambassador of Science, Technology and Envoronment, Minsitry of Foreign Affairs 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

GUATEMALA

° María Carlota Monroy Escobar 
Professor at Universidad de San Carlos
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° María del Carmen Samayoa 
President of the Academy of Sciences of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

INDIA

° Manju Sharma 
President and Executive Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Research, Gandhinagar and former Secretary of Biotechnology
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

JAMAICA

° Helen Marjorie Jacobs 
Professor at the University of the West Indies Jamaica 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

MEXICO

° Jorge Martínez Stack 
Advisor to the General Directorate for Institutional 
Evaluation, UNAM 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Juan Pedro Laclette 
Co-Chair. InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS) 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Judith Zubieta 
Researcher at National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

° Lena Ruiz 
President of Grupo Mujer Ciencia, UNAM 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Mayra de la Torre 
Third World Organization for Women in Science; Latin America & Caribbean Executive Board 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Norma Blázquez 
Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Science and Humanities at UNAM 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

PERU

° Nicole Bernex
Professor at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

URUGUAY

° Roberto Markarian 
Professor at University of La República
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

   

USA

° Johanna Levelt Sengers 
Member , US National Academy of Sciences 
Member , US National Academy of Engineering 
Co-Chair InterAcademy Council Advisory Report Women for Science" (2006) 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Lilian Wu 
Chair of the National Academies Committee in Science and Engineering 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

° Sophia Huyer 
Director of Women and Global Science and Technology (WIGSAT) and Executive Director, Gender Advisory Board, UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

VENEZUELA

° Gioconda San Blas 
Professor at Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Presentations - IANAS "Women for Science Symposium"

April 2009
Mexico City, Mexico

MONDAY, APRIL 20

Opening Ceremony

    - Juan Pedro Laclette (Mexico)
    - Rosaura Ruiz (Mexico)
    - Alice Abreu (Brazil)

Invited Lecture

    - Johanna Levelt Sengers (USA)

Round Table I. Gender and Public Policies in Education, Science and Technology . Improving Gender Equity.

    1. Alice Abreu (Brazil)

    2. Nadia Ghazzali (Canada)

    3. Diana Maffía (Argentina)

    4. Sophia Huyer (USA)

Round Table II. An agenda for Change: Removing Obstacles for a Career in Science and Technology.

    1. Lilian Wu (USA)

    2. Gloria Bonder (Argentina)

    3. María Teresa Ruiz (Chile)

    4. Marcia Barbosa (Brazil)

Round Table III. Increasing the Visibility of Women in Science in Latin America and the Caribbean : Role Models, Mentoring and Awards.

    1. Elsa Quiroga (Bolivia)

    2. Mona Nemer (Canada)

    3. Lilliam Margarita Alvarez (Cuba)

 

TUESDAY, APRIL 21

Round Table IV. Improving the Collection of Gender Disaggregated Data for S&T Policy Making.

    1. Manju Sharma (India)

    2. Jorge Martínez Stack (Mexico)

    3. Tatiana Láscaris (Costa Rica)

    4. Lena Ruiz (Mexico)


Report - IANAS "Women for Science Symposium"

IANAS “Women for Science” Symposium
Mexico City, Mexico – Apr 21-22, 2009

REPORT

Motivated by an initiative of the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP) and the InterAcademy Council (IAC), the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS), in  partnership with the Mexican Academy of Sciences, the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the ICSU Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, organized the IANAS “Women for Science” Symposium,  held at the Mexican Academy of Sciences, in Mexico City, on 21-22 April 2009.

The main objective of this symposium was to present to key stakeholders in Latin America and the Caribbean region the conclusions and recommendations of the “IAC Women for Science Advisory Report” and discuss strategies and mechanisms for the regional implementation of proposed actions.

The symposium assembled 31 participants from 16 countries, covering North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean region. The rich mix of participants, coming from academia, government, international organizations and the private sector, contributed to the successful achievements of the proposed objectives. Representatives from the Third World Organization for Women in Science (TWOWS) and the Gender Advisory Board (GAB). The two co-chairs of the IAC Women for Science Advisory Report,  Johanna (Anneke) Levelt Sengers (USA) and Manju Sharma ( India) attended the meeting.

The low regional representation of women in science and engineering is a major hindrance to regional capacity building in science and technology. Discussions focused on the analysis, through a regional perspective, of political, legislative and cultural factors limiting and/or encouraging the access of women to science and technology; successful experiences favoring gender equity in research and development; and the elaboration of a set of actionable recommendations to be addressed to the Science and Engineering Academies in the region aiming inclusion and gender mainstreaming in the Americas.

The presentations and discussions at the symposium emphasized key issues summarized below.

(a)   Gender and Public Policies in Education, Science and Technology

  • In developing countries, data suggests that high rates of illiteracy prevail in rural and marginal urban areas, since many families prefer to send only the boys to school. Moreover, there is evidence of higher drop–out rates at primary and secondary school of female students. For Latin America and the Caribbean more analysis is needed to confirm this trend. Large heterogeneities can be expected in the region, with less developed countries following the global trend and some highly urbanized – and relatively more developed – countries showing a different pattern.
  • It seems that even when there are different actions to motivate girls to pursue higher education reported in the literature, as well as different actions to promote the entrance of girls to universities, girls who do go to school do not know what to study and usually, they do not pursue science-related subjects. Indeed, there seems to be no guidance for the few women that are able to reach higher education.
  • Available literature shows that the way science is taught is one of the reasons for the lack of interest of students. Special efforts should be made in order to improve the teaching of scientific disciplines.  Even when students manage to overcome these obstacles and succeed in scientific careers, it is hard for female scientists to become role models; they usually receive fewer funds than their male colleagues and there are just a few awards for women in science and technology (S&T).  The frequent invisibility of women in S&T constituted a point of agreement among participants, even though it is not clear how it actually takes place.
  • Rather slowly, women scientists have constituted elites in S&T, since some have reached the highest levels by their own efforts.  There are different policies and approaches to promote women participation in some countries, although the traditional model persists.  As part of that model, data show women’s inequity in entering some scientific fields. Therefore, data collection and analysis in gender, science and technology issues should be a continuous process.  In order to increase visibility of female performance in S&T, databases should be constructed under a gender perspective.
  • It is understood that women’s development implies family and community development, which is the main issue of equity.  S&T for development has not generally targeted women’s concerns and perspectives.  Reaching equity is only feasible when gender differences are acknowledged and dealt with.
  • The establishment of Gender Advisory Board National Committees in some countries has contributed largely to look at gender-related issues.  In the present global economic crisis, it is clear that women will be first impacted upon in different arenas, mainly in the labor market. Women should be trained to develop capacities to negotiate same income as male colleagues. To this purpose, information availability regarding salaries, among many other variables, becomes essential.  Women should be able to recognize opportunities to fill positions in decision-making bodies, faculty positions, and committees, knowing the process to access to those positions. Helping women to gain confidence in what they are offered as employees, to improve their quality of work-life, negotiate better salaries, grants, business, and nets will eventually lead to better standards of living.  An additional initiative must include designing and implementing integrated plans with gender equity in all policies, with a legal status. 

(b)   Removing Obstacles for a Career in Science and Technology

  • Despite significant advances in the last decades regarding the participation of women in Education, Science and Technology, remaining obstacles still prevent women's full contribution to this field, with negative consequences to quality and innovation of Science and Technology National systems.
  • All sectors, policy makers, academies, universities, industries, NGO's, and women networks should work collaboratively and committed to overcome obstacles: women need to recover their self esteem in order to have their own identity and freedom which will in turn allow them to innovate, to create; review institutional norms and regulations to enter University undergraduate and graduate programs in order to transform them from obstacles to opportunities for the enrolment and fulfilment of young female students and scientists; analyze feudal and anachronic rules favoring men in power positions in their laboratories and departmental fields; education is the sole tool allowing for change to happen in the medium and long range; women scientists who have retired are an important source for mentoring; female scientists should be active objects of study in projects dealing with their involvement and participation in S&T; adopt an innovative attitude towards highly constrained situations.
  • In order to eliminate obstacles in women’s careers in S&T, it is important to exchange ideas and critically analyze the results and impacts of different strategies and programs being implemented by both International agencies and individual countries.  This way, programs could be redesigned and reoriented bearing that “the only thing that matters in science is quality”. Cultural aspects should also be considered when designing programs so that they respond to real conditions and innovation becomes feasible.

(c)   Increasing the Visibility of Women in Science

  • For all countries, it is imperative to reclaim female participation in science, technology, and innovation, since not doing it will have negative impacts in social and economic development.  It is imperative to maximize women visibility within a country’s development scheme.
  • For all countries, it is imperative to reclaim female participation in science, technology, and innovation, since not doing it will have negative impacts in social and economic development.  It is imperative to maximize women visibility within a country’s development scheme.
  • If one looked towards the Americas, one important initiative that would help the difusion and discussion of gender issues in S&T would be the creation of a Portal for Network and a Virtual community for Women in Sciences, in the IAP, IANAS, ICSU and TWAS websites, within which all regional websites of TWOWS National Chapters and other Chairs, Organizations, Institutions for Science, Tech and Gender, can be hyperlinked.
  • Two other initiatives were discussed, that could be developed as pilot projects in some countries, linked to the recognized assertion that the low participation of women in science and technology is a limiting factor for the social and economic development of a country. The first is to quantify the economic loss in different economic sectors and activities of a country resulting from the low training and scientific and technological capacity of women. If this loss is quantifiable this would put in evidence the role women play in the life of a society and alert governments of the necessity for an integral and high level participation of women. The second is to evaluate the participation of highly trained professional women in science and technology in the different productive sectors of each country.

(d)   Improving the Collection of Gender disaggregated data for S&T Policy Making

  • Women have to be recognized at different levels (national, regional, local, and global). The involvement of women is important for economic development, and not only from a gender perspective. In order to contribute to this recognition, Academies have to lead the way: Academies of Science can advise States to give major thrust world over to create a knowledge-based society with full involvement of women scientists and technologists; create a strong sustainable Science & Technology base which will affect all the social levels.  This intellectual capital of half of the human resources on planet Earth should be an integral part of the accelerated S&T drive towards progress, peace and happiness of humanity.  While doing it, different national and international contexts should be considered, particularly when thinking of the Knowledge society and globalized environments.
  • Empowerment and power distribution within our societies are topics to be approached with a gender perspective, considering women’s needs and the possibilities to increase their autonomy (equity).  Statistics help to promote changes, destroying stereotypes and fostering understanding of the reality men and women face in society. Moreover, they portray sound basis for policy making as well as for assessing those policies.
  • Information is essential to design appropriate policies and break vicious circles. Sex-disaggregated indicators are needed in order to facilitate comparability among regions and to design accurate diagnostics integrating factors obstructing or promoting women advancement in S&T careers. It should be clear that “Sex” is not a synonym of “Gender”.  The latter implies other criteria and social issues involving the relationship between sexes.
  • Indicators must comply with criteria related to relevance, sensitivity, as well as with being integral part of a larger system. Metadata are also desirable, while sources must be identified and characterized previously. Opportunities should be identified and characterized as well as action spaces which could be used to that end. Specific qualitative projects are needed.
  • It is mandatory to identify the purpose of all indicators either for descriptive purposes or for value-related objectives. Analytical tools currently in use by Social Scientists are to be utilized. Moreover, they should be kept separated from theoretical discussions or from arguments relating sex-disaggregation with other areas of social development.
  • A System of Indicators is also needed to perform an initial evaluation, follow up activities as well as solution proposals. It is important to promote continuous exchanges between those producing and those collecting, systematizing and analyzing information. Users should be invited to participate in the identification of problem situations thus facilitating their solution in a participative way. Moreover, it is imperative to construct indicators to evaluate “Good Management Practices”.

Final conclusions and recommendations

Among the factors that strongly influence the themes treated in the workshop, many participants emphasized that it is difficult to analyze gender discrimination isolated from the generalized context of the lack of interest of the social use of science and technology.  It was pointed out that one should prioritize large discriminated population groups, since literacy and the access to new technologies as a tool for the development of human potentialities are, in general, problems that affect all marginal sectors of our society.  The main goal of all scientific and technological organizations and institutions should be to guarantee scientific and technological literacy and the social appropriation of scientific knowledge in an equitable way, without discrimination of race, ethnicity, sex, social or economic origin.

Finally, the plenary discussed and approved final recommendations for actions, targeting specifically the Academies of Sciences of the Americas and IANAS.

Actions concerning the Academies of Sciences
The Academies of Sciences of the continent should:

  • have a focal point in gender;
  • stimulate relations with TWOWS, GAB and other international organizations concerned with gender in S&T;
  • work with policy makers to use toolkits and other instruments developed elsewhere to promote gender equity in S&T;
  • pursue the presence of women in committees assessing and evaluating scientists for prizes;
  • create prizes for women in science, in particular to women working as mentors;
  • establish prizes (or fellowships) for young female scientists to develop a research program;
  • request the national grant agencies to have a mentoring program that would include retired scientists as mentors;
  • request national grant agencies to have women in decision-making committees and to give support to conferences if they have a representative number of women in the organizing committee and among speakers;
  • promote transformative leadership skills for young women scientists;
  • request national grant agencies and governments to allow for maternity leaves for master and doctoral students, as well as for postdoctoral fellows;
  • request national grant agencies and governments to consider for promotion, evaluation and renewal of grants the time taken off by women during maternity leaves, nursing and caring of the elderly.  In short, to expand those periods to compensate for these activities;
  • engage in gender studies while active female scientists should be included;
  • encourage transparency in the admission procedures of the Academies;
  • provide on line lists of didactics and entertaining material that would promote gender equity;
  • promote a campaign for changing the stereotype of women in science;
  • prepare books and/or documents or make available on line biographies of prestigious women in science as role models;
  • foster the establishment of bridges with traditional knowledge, with accent in the ancestral knowledge of women.

Actions concerning IANAS
The Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences should:

  • establish a networking program where young female scientists could travel and spend some time at a laboratory abroad;
  • build a data bank available on line of women in science that would promote networking.