Worldwide, science and technology (S&T) capacity building requires the full engagement of women in S&T from the top decision-making levels all the way down to the grassroots. This was one of the main findings of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) Advisory Panel on Women for Science in 2005. The panel also stated that science and engineering academies urgently need to take action, on the rationale that a greater range of styles and points of view – made possible by a diversity of scientists and engineers – will enrich the S&T enterprise as well as the societies it serves. The IAC Advisory Report Women for Science identified key actions that may lead to greater participation of women in science and engineering:
1. Education in S&T for girls and women
2. Increasing visibility of women scientists and engineers
3. Building an inclusive institutional culture in S&T
4. Fostering networking and mentoring to reduce the isolation of women scientists and engineers.
As a follow-up, IANAS organized a Symposium Women for Science at the Mexican Academy of Sciences in Mexico City on 21-22 April 2009, in collaboration 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. Participants agreed that the low representation of women in science and engineering is a major hindrance to capacity building in science and technology in the IANAS region. Discussions focused on the analysis of political, legislative and cultural factors in the IANAS region that limit and/or encourage the access and participation of women in science and technology; successful experiences favoring gender equity in research and development; and the formulation of a set of actionable recommendations, addressed to the science and engineering academies in the region, for promoting greater inclusion of women in S&T in the Americas.
The Women for Science Working Group (WfS-WG) was established by IANAS in June 2010 and is sponsored by the IAP, the Global Network of Science Academies, which has adopted the IAC report for implementation. Click here for the press release announcing the launch of the Working Group. WfS-WG consists of a seven – member core together with focal points (liaisons) appointed by all IANAS academies.