National Assessments on Gender Equality in the Knowledge Society — Project Summary/Key Findings


Published on

This study (National Assessments and Benchmarking of Gender, Science, Technology and Innovation) assessed the level of support, opportunities and participation of women in science in the world’s leading knowledge-based economies: the European Union, the United States, Brazil, South Africa, India, Korea and Indonesia. The study was conducted by the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and WIGSAT with the aid of a 2010 Elsevier Foundation grant.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

National Assessments on Gender Equality in the Knowledge Society — Project Summary/Key Findings

  1. 1. National Assessments on Gender Equality in the Knowledge SocietyGender in science, technology and innovation Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World, 2012 204 Ventress Road, Brighton, Ontario, Canada K0K 1H0 /
  2. 2. GEKS TeamCoordinators:Sophia Huyer, Executive Director, WISATNancy Hafkin, Senior Associate, WISATData support: Dela Kusi-AppouhNational Researchers:1. BrazilAlice Rangel de Paiva Abreu, Professora Emérita, Universidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroMaria Coleta F A de Oliveira, Demography Department, Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences,Campinas State University (UNICAMP)2. IndiaSudha Nair, Gender Advisory Board, United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development(UNCSTD), India3. IndonesiaWati Hermawati, Researcher, PAPPIPTEK-LIPI, Indonesian Institute of SciencesRina Sufiani Saari, Head of Library Services Section, Centre for Scientific Documentation and Information - Indone-sian Institute of Sciences3. Republic of KoreaYoung Ock Kim, Director, Labour-Statistics, Research Department, Korean Women’s Development InstituteYou-Kyung Moon, Research Fellow, Labor and Statistics Research Department, KWDI4. South AfricaNelius Boshoff, Senior Researcher, Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST)/ South Af-rica Academy of Sciences (ASSAf)5. USARachel Ivie, American Institute of PhysicsArnell Ephraim, American Institute of Physics6. European UnionElias Sanz Casado, Professor, Department of Library Sciences and Director of the Laboratory of Metric Studies ofInformation (LEMI), Universidad Carlos III Madrid, SpainDaniela de Filippo, Researcher, Department of Library Sciences Universidad de Carlos III Madrid, SpainAbout the National Assessments on Gender and STI:This project is a joint initiative of Women in Global Science and Technology (WISAT) and the Organization forWomen in Science for the Developing World (OWSD). It is supported by the software platformand the Elsevier Foundation.More information on the project, including national reports and the Results Scorecard, are available Huyer, Executive Director,,
  3. 3. Gender Equality in the Knowledge SocietyWomens contributions to sustainable socio-economic development as food producers and providers, own-ers of micro and small-scale enterprises, healthcare providers, household managers, educators and naturalresource managers1, are critical to the achievement of poverty reduction and the MDGs. However, they arepoorly represented at all levels of decision making, earn less income than men with lower levels of employ-ment – frequently in the nonformal sector, experience the effects of poverty more severely than men, and areexpected to manage their activities with fewer resources.The global community has recognized this lack of support for womens contributions. FAO notes that if fe-male farmers had the same access to productive resources as male farmers (fertilizers, extension services,agricultural information, finance and land), their agricultural yields could increase by 20 to 30 percent, inturn increasing national agricultural production by 2.5 to 4 percent and reducing the number of malnour-ished people by 12 to 17 percent2. If women’s paid employment rates were raised to the same level asmen’s, it is estimated the GDPs of the United States, Japan, UAE and Egypt would increase by 5, 9, 12 and 34percentage points respectively3.A gender imbalance also exists in STI education, where males outnumber females worldwide due to a rangeof barriers for females such as their need for safety and security, teaching methods that favour boys, precon-ceptions that S&T is a male domain, and unwillingness of families to support their daughters at higher lev-els of education. Males also outnumber females in technical and vocational education worldwide. At higherlevels of education the number of women in STI falls continuously from secondary school to university,laboratories, teaching and decision making. There are consistently low levels of women in the skilled tech-nology workforce in the private sector, with even fewer females in senior management and as leaders oflarge companies4.In the increasingly important area of access to communication, women have lower levels of access to ICTssuch as internet and smartphones in the majority of countries in the world. The Cherie Blair Foundation hasidentified a large gender gap in use of mobile phones: globally a woman is 21% less likely to own a mobilethan a man, a figure which increases to 23% in Africa, 24% in the Arab world, and 37% in South Asia – leav-ing a total of 300 million women5 without such access.A strong national base of science and technology capacity is at the core of long-term economic growth, in-novation and research. It is a prerequisite for improving the lives of the poor through better nutrition andhealth, higher crop yields, cleaner water, providing clean and renewable energy sources and improved soiland natural resources management. It will also be needed to face challenges such as climate change andeconomic shocks. Building national capacity for adoption, adaptation, innovation and technological diffu-sion of basic and medium technologies is important for job creation and poverty reduction, while increasingproductivity, establishing infrastructure services, providing access to new markets, and improving man-agement of natural resources. 6STI is also needed to support womens livelihood, domestic and natural resource management activities."Womens roles roles as food producers, educators of their children, family caregivers and community man-agers will need to be underpinned by STI resources in order for countries to meet many of the MDG targets(UNCTAD, 2011:3)."
  4. 4. Gendered barriers to STI and technology access and use create a large gender in the knowledge society that will not improve automatically with economic growth. These gaps in womens access to resources, opportunities, S&T education and employment, and technolo- gies are depriving countries of women’s experience, creativity and ability. They are a waste of the resources invested in the education and support of women and girls and in the national technology and extension systems that do not reach a substantial portion of the population. Developing a scientific and technological workforce as well as supporting a population to understand and use S&T to improve their lives and liveli- hoods will help to bridge these gaps. Countries will need to mobilize the active participation of women and other underrepresented groups in the science, engineering and technology (SET) and information technol- ogy (IT) workforces, and improve the ability of these groups to develop and use technologies in areas such as food production, water and sanitation, and energy. The Gender Equality – Knowledge Society (GE&KS) indicator framework was developed to address the fact that women — particularly those in the developing world — find themselves on the wrong side of both the digital divide and the knowledge divide. Worldwide, their capacity to participate in science, technology and innovation is grossly under-developed and under-utilized. They are at risk of becoming increasingly mar- ginalized in national knowledge societies and science, technology and innovation systems: not only do they have less access to information and technology, they are poorly represented in educational, entrepreneur- ship and employment opportunities. From a rights perspective, in order to promote sustainable economic growth, and to achievement poverty reduction and development goals, it is important to ensure that women have the access and the opportunity to design, create and take advantage of the opportunities of the knowl- edge society. OWSD, 2012 OWSD, 2012 MSSF, 2006 The Framework on Gender Equality and the Knowledge Society The Framework on Gender Equality and the Knowledge Society (GE&KS) brings together gender-sensitive data on key areas in the knowledge society (ICT, science, technology and innovation) with gender indicators of health, economic and social status and other areas. Gender equality and empowerment are integrated into this framework because they constitute the base conditions for womens successful participation in the knowledge society. Comparative analysis of the GE&KS indicators will help to arrive at identification of sex-specific trends which can lead to better research, practice, assessment and evidence-based recommendations that will shed light on the closing of knowledge divides. The picture of women’s participation in the knowledge society will be incomplete without some under- standing of the context of women’s lives in a given country. What are women’s economic activities, partici- pation in economic and political decision-making, knowledge and skills, their health, well-being, status and the conditions under which they live? No matter what the level of development or GDP of their countries, these factors all condition women’s ability to participate in the knowledge society, often in ways that are quite different from men. For example, women’s agency is central to gender empowerment in the knowl- edge society: women will achieve equality if they are actors in the process of change in their own lives and2 WISAT-OWSD
  5. 5. communities. Women will be in a position to effectively contribute and benefit from the knowledge society if they have the full range of gender equality rights, benefits and opportunities. Access to education, participation in S&T and ability to earn income are not automatically connected. Nu- merous studies hve shown that getting more girls into science and technology education at secondary and tertiary levels does not automatically lead to increased numbers of females at higher levels of S&T insituti- tuons, or in the S&T/knowledge society workforce7. Similarly, getting more women into the paid workforce does not ensure that they will become senior managers, leaders or decision makers in either the public or private sectors. In constructing this framework, a small number of simple indicators was identified that would be relevant to key policy issues, comparable and affordable to collect. The importance of developing a framework that could be used and adapted by national statistical offices across a wide variety of countries was taken into account. Framework indicators were drawn from the major international gender equity indexes and data- bases along with the major STI, ICT and knowledge indexes8. The GE&KS framework is organized into three sections – Inputs, Outcomes and Enabling Policies, each comprised of key data indicators9: Inputs Supporting Outcomes Policy Health - Healthy life expec- Knowledge society Knowledge - Business and Status tancy policy environment Society corporate decision - Prevalence of disease Decision making - Fertility Gender policy Making - Science decision Social Status - Sex ratio at birth making Gender budgets - Violence against Knowledge - Administrative and women Science and engineer- Economy managerial posi- - Time use ing policy tions Economic - Economically active - Information tech- Status population Science an nology workers - Income Science, tech- - Science and engi- - Categories of work nology and neering education - Poverty innovation - Scientists and engi- Access to - Property rights participation neers Resources - Access to capital - Publications - Access to ICT - Brain drain - Quality of infrastructure - Entrepreneurship - Electricity consumption Agency - Parliamentary represen- tation - Women in government - Contraceptive use Opportunity - Literacy and Capabi- - Access to education ity - Access to training2 WISAT-OWSD
  6. 6. Phase OneA pilot assessment of six countries and one region took place during 2012: Brazil, India, Indonesia, the Re-public of Korea, South Africa, the United States, and the European Union. The study will be expanded toother countries in 2013.National researchers have analysed data available from national and international sources. National reportsprovide a situational analysis inorporating both quantitative and qualitative data and can be viewed asstand-alone reports. Data from the national studies was incorporated into the global online analysis plat-form which produced the cross-national comparisons and rankings.Key FindingsThe major finding of this study is that the knowledge gender divide continues to exist in all countries, eventhose which have a highly-developed knowledge society: Women participate at much lower levels inknowledge society decision making and the knowledge economy than men. In the science and technologysector, only in the health and life sciences (education) are they represented equally with men, and only insome countries. In all countries, female representation in the science and technology workforce is lower thanmale. In all countries in this review – which represent the leading knowledge-based economies in the world – theknowledge society is failing to include women to an equal extent, and in some cases, their inclusion is negligible. • Numbers of women in the science, technology and innovation fields are alarmingly low in the world’s leading economies, and are actually on the decline in many, including the United States. • Women remain severely under-represented in the areas of engineering, physics and computer sci- ence — less than 30% in most countries. In addition, the numbers of women actually working in these fields are declining across the board. Even in countries where the numbers of women study- ing science and technology have increased, it has not translated into more women in the work- place. • Women have lower levels of access to the productive resources necessary to support active en- gagement in the knowledge society and related professions – property (land); financing; technol- ogy; and education. • In turn their representation in employment, entrepreneurship and research is lower in key sectors of the knowledge society. • Female parity in the science, technology and innovation fields is tied to multiple empowerment factors, with the most influential being higher economic status, larger roles in government and politics, access to economic, productive and technological resources, and a supportive policy envi- ronment. Findings also show that women have greater parity in countries with government poli- cies that support health and childcare, equal pay, and gender mainstreaming. • The results show that access to education is not a solution in and of itself and neither is either health or economic status. Each element is only one part of what should be a multi-dimensional policymaking approach. There is no simple solution. • Women in most of the most countries under study are experiencing inequality of opportunity. • Most countries do not collect sex-disaggregated data consistently at the national and international levels. More data is necessary to inform the policies and programes that will allow countries to profit from the underutilized potential of their female population. 3 WISAT-OWSD
  7. 7. o Indonesia and India collect and make available the least sex-disaggregated data in all sec- tors, including but not restricted to STI. o Little or no consistent sex-disaggregated data is collected in many countries in important areas, such as business leadership, heads of universities and research institutes, skilled emigrants, publication of refereed articles, rates of HIV/AIDS infection among female youth, and others. • While women’s enrollment in bio and health-related sciences is high in general, female representa- tion drops dramatically in physics and engineering, and in the transition to the S&E workforce. All of these should be clear signals to policy makers for the need to address these consistent gaps in participation. • Women’s low level of representation in decision-making and in formal enterprises in the private sector is a shocking gap, and in view of the share of women in informal enterprises worldwide, is a glaring inconsistency that needs to be addressed. This is particularly important when one factors in the contribution that women make to poverty eradication and food security at the local level and in informal enterprises. • Brazil and South Korea may represent models for encouraging and retaining women in the science, engineering and technology workforce, but particularly in South Korea women’s participation in other sectors of society, including decision-making and the private sector, are of great concern. This indicates that economic and STI development that does not take women into account will in fact leave them behind. • We also see that women in countries with low levels of health and/or social status are behind from the very beginning, leaving those countries with additional constraints to women’s knowledge so- ciety participation that are very difficult to overcome. These can prevail despite an enabling policy environment. India and South Africa are cases in point.4 WISAT-OWSD
  8. 8. Overall findingsThe European Union as a composite ranks first overall, and first or second in every other dimension exceptopportunity and capability. This is a remarkable result, considering the wide variation among countries inthe EU in terms of social support, GDP, and promotion of science, technology and innovation (STI).The United States ranks second overall, but fifth in health, agency, social status. Its high status overall comesfrom its primary ranking in the opportunity and capability and the knowledge society decision-making di-mensions – educational levels of women and positions in private sector and science decision-making levels.It comes in second in economic status and access to resources. The US ranks lowest in enabling policies.While it ranks higher in other sectors, this finding indicates that a more favourable policy environment forthe US could be an important strategy towards addressing economic competitors in other parts of the worldand a strategy for regenerating economic growth after the economic crisis of 2010.Brazil ranks the highest of the remaining countries, coming in above even the Republic of Korea. It is thirdoverall, first in womens participation in the knowledge economy and science, technology and innovation,as well as agency. It is second in health, opportunity and capabiity and enabling policy, and third in socialstatus, economic status and access to resources. However its low ranking (4th) in knowledge society deci-sion-making show where improvement needs to be made in addition to those areas where it ranks third.Brazil is an example of a country with both a highly enabling policy environment for women and effectiveimplementation strategies.Although Indonesia comes out fourth overall, its actual status is not clear as a result of a paucity of availablestatistics on the situation of women. Of the countries in this study, Indonesia collects the least sex-disaggregated data, with data unavailable for many of the indicators. Its positive enabling policy environ-ment, though, gives it a strong potential for a positive outcome for women that would be clearer if support-ing data were available. The available data gives it a fourth ranking in most sectors, which reflect a steadyimprovement over the last decade10, however current levels of economic status, access to resources, agency,health and social status indicate a need to improve the actual status of women in the country.South Africa ranks fifth overall but first in agency. It ranks highly also in knowledge society decision-making (2), third in social status, and fourth (although close to the higher ranked countries) in science, tech-nology and innovation participation. This is likely a result of a strong educational system, a policy focus on 5 WISAT-OWSD
  9. 9. STI, as well as a quota system implemented in various sectors of society to promote diversity of participa- tion by race and gender. Its high rate of HIV in the population puts it last in health, while it ranks fifth in access to resources. Republic of Korea – While it ranks first in health it is last several sectors, including economic status, access to resources, enabling policy, knowledge economy and STI participation. It ranks second to last (sixth) overall. This reflects the situation that even though it ranks third in opportunity and capability it sees a low level of female participation in public and economic life in both public and private sectors. This shows the country has failed to adequately support its women to participate actively in its economic success. It also shows the lack of correlation between a country’s GDP and gender equality. India ranks the lowest overall and in most categories, except in economic status; knowledge economy, ena- bling policy; and health. While its enabling policy environment is very positive and has been in place for many years, implementation and funding needs to increase substantially before its women can equally benefit from its innovation advantage. There are definite signs of progress, though. It has achieved universal primary education enrollment for example. However, size of the population mitigates against a rate of change as rapid as a country such as Indonesia or Brazil. 1 UNCTAD, 2011. Applying a Gender Lens to Science, Technology and Innovation. Current Studies on Science, Technology and Innovation, No. 5 ed. Geneva: United Nations. 2 Food and Agriculture Organization, 2011. The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011: Women in Agriculture, Clos- ing the gender gap for development. Rome: FAO. 3 Aguirre, D., L. Hoteit, C. Rupp, K. Sabbagh, 2012. Empowering the Third Billion: Women and the World of Work in 2012. [Briefing, Booz&Co.]. Available from: 44 UNCTAD, 2011; UNESCO, 2007. Science, Technology, and Gender: An International Report. Paris: UNESCO; UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), 2011. Global Education Digest 2011. Montreal, Canada: UNESCO Institute for Statistics. 5 GSMA Development Fund and Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, 2010. Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity. Available from: 6 Juma, Calestous and Lee Yee-Cheong, 2006. Innovation: Applying knowledge for development. UN Millennium Project Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation ed. London: Earthscan; UNDP, 2005. Botswana Human Devel- opment Report: Harnessing Science and Technology for Human Development. Gabarone: UNDP. 7 See UNESCO 2011, and American Assocation of University Women (AAUW), 2010. Why so Few? Women in Sci- ence, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. February. Washington: AAUW. 8 See Huyer, S. and Hafkin, N. 2007. Engendering the Knowledge Society: Measuring Womens Participation. Ottawa: National Research Centre and Orbicom. 9 For the reasons behind the choice of indicators, see Huyer, Sophia, Nancy Hafkin, Heidi Ertl,and Heather Dry- burgh, 2005. Women in the Information Society. In Sciadis, G., ed. From the digital divide to digital opportunities: Measur- ing infostates for development. Montreal: Orbicom. 10 Lack of data for many indicators means that Indonesias ranking may change as more data and expert analysis are incorporated into the study.6 WISAT-OWSD