With phenomenal technological advances sweeping across the world, sufficient numbers of scientists and engineers, science and technology educators, health professionals, and technicians, together with a wide spectrum of skills, are needed to realize some very important objectives. Together they can help to avert starvation, unhealthy living conditions, and unemployment —particularly in the developing world—and to sustain a productive life, and quality of life, in developing and developed countries alike. Given these needs, women—along with men— should be given ample opportunities to enter and excel in science, technology, and related professions.
But while women constitute half of humanity, even in countries where they have ready access to higher education, the number of women studying mathematics, physical science, and engineering remains drastically below parity with that of men. Talented and capable women are essentially turned away from these and other fields, and the few who persist typically find themselves isolated and marginalized. As a result, the overall participation of women scientists and engineers in the workforce continues to be very limited, and these professional women seldom reach the pinnacle of the hierarchy—at universities, in companies, or anywhere else.
We are deeply concerned about this gender gap, not only because of its egregious moral implications but also for practical reasons. Science and engineering—essential to the survival, development, and prosperity of humankind in the 21st century—are being deprived of the vibrancy that would result from the inclusion of a wider range of abilities, experiences, viewpoints, and working styles.
Every man and woman should count. And young women aspiring to become professionals in science and technology especially need encouragement, nurturing, and a gender-sensitive and inclusive environment.
Members of the IAC