Public Awareness of STEM and Advancing the Role of Women in STEM: An International Conference

This National Science Foundation-funded international convening was organized by ILI and brought together a group of approximately 30 Science Technology & Society (STS) and Popularization of Science experts from 9 South Asian and Southeast Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand), plus the U.S., to discuss how best to increase both awareness and participation of STEM-related topics, with a special focus on girls and women. This high-level interactive gathering helped to craft collective national and international strategies for promoting public awareness and appreciation of STEM as important factors in economic development and societal well-being, with a particular focus on gender equity and inclusion. The meeting built on and utilized the wealth of data showing how STEM drives economic development and emphasized the growing appreciation that education in STEM must be targeted, not only to future STEM professionals in government and industry but also to the general public. The major focus of the project was on developing strategies for increasing the participation of women and girls in STEM, both as STEM professionals and as informed and engaged, lifelong participants in a STEM-rich world. Five overarching issues were identified by the group as critical to facilitating effective, self-sustaining models that support increased awareness by and participation of women and girls in STEM-related education, careers, and civil society:

  1. Workforce Challenges
  2. Challenges presented by Cultural/Gender Assumptions
  3. Challenges presented by Poverty & Access
  4. “Glass Ceiling” Challenges in Government, Academy and Business
  5. Challenge of Ensuring an Ecosystem-Wide Approach to Equity (across age, setting & time of day)

Among the outcomes of the effort was a special issue of the journal American Behavioral Scientist, the issue can be found at:

The full report can be viewed here:  2022 Women in STEM NSF Final Report

Project Team: John Falk, Ph.D,  Lynn Dierking, Ph.D., Roli Varma, Ph.D.