07.09.2015 - Natural Sciences Sector

STEM and Gender Advancement project kicks off

© UNESCO/ L. A. Brooks SAGA advisory committee during their first meeting on 1 September 2015.

The first meeting of the STEM and Gender Advancement (SAGA) Advisory Committee took place on 1 and 2 September 2015 in the UNESCO Institute for Statistics offices in Montréal, Canada. The project aims to contribute to reducing the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in all countries at all levels of education and research, by analysing how policies affect the gender balance in STEM, developing new and better indicators to provide tools for evidence-based policy-making, and building capacity in Member States for data collection.

During this meeting, which was a crucial step for the SAGA project, discussions were rich and enlightening, allowing for the SAGA Steering Committee and the SAGA team to benefit from insightful advice and strategic inputs in order to improve some of the aspects of the project implementation. The main objective of the meeting was to identify appropriate methodological approaches for surveying STI policy instruments that address or impact gender equality and for selecting gender in STEM indicators. The specific objectives of the meeting included:

  • Discussing the list of policy questions that the project will try to answer;
  • Consolidating and identifying by consensus the best required definitions, conceptual framework, indicators and sex-disaggregated data to collect in order to respond to the specific questions driving policy on women and science; and
  • Determining the best questions to ask in order to elicit such data.

The Steering Committee made several presentations over the two days on: the genesis of the SAGA project; the current work on mapping STI policy instruments and the initial gap analysis of such instruments; statistics and an indicators inventory for gender in STEM; and finally SAGA’s expected outputs, including a toolkit of the survey instruments, modifications to the UIS R&D surveys, as well as potential countries to pilot the surveys. All participants, Advisory Committee members and observers, presented their own relevant work, discussed the appropriate definitions of terminology, brought in new terms that should be incorporated, and helped to set the boundaries of what SAGA will address.

At the end of the meeting, all participants agreed an excellent start had been made to the SAGA project, although much work lies ahead. The Advisory Committee members all pledged to collaborate and noted various synergies with work ongoing or commencing in their organisations.

In view of the meeting, UNESCO’s website content on women in science was updated. We hope you will explore these pages and provide suggestions to improve them.

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