The Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL), under the distinguished patronage of His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal, organised an exclusive round table discussion: ‘Ambiti@n – Women in STEM‘ in Lisbon on the 8th of November.
The round table discussion was part of the WPL Policy Forum Technology & Digitalisation. Other meetings of this WPL policy forum in 2017 included:
- WIP G20 roundtable ‘Digitalisation: Policies for a Digital Future’ co-hosted by Women 20, 5-6 April, Duesseldorf, Germany
- World Economic Forum panel discussion: ‘The role of digital in responsible leadership’, 19 January, Davos, Switzerland
The WPL Policy Forum acts as a knowledge platform to align purpose, impact and action. It serves to place Women in STEM high on the political agenda. Johnson & Johnson supports this Policy Forum.
The event in Lisbon convened female politicians and other senior representatives from intergovernmental organisations, academia, industry and civil society.
During the meeting, female political leaders and other experts exchanged information on political decisions that successfully passed the reality test for STEM and ICT education and discussed best practice examples that advance society.
It was highlighted that attracting and keeping girls interested in STEM is not just good for the world, but it is good for them. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing nearly twice as fast as non-STEM occupations and STEM employees earn 26% more than their non-STEM counterparts.
Unfortunately, gender bias still exists, and society has the responsibility to collectively work together to dispel the myth that girls and women are just not wired for STEM work. Young girls and women must have equal access and be equipped with the tools, resources and opportunities they need to excel in areas of STEM.
WPL actively encourages the goal to increase the number of undergraduate women enrolling in and declaring majors in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, Manufacturing and Design by 30% by the year 2030. Some of the specific actions to achieve the proposed goal are:
- Develop education policies to engage girls between the ages of 5 and 18 through initiatives designed to spark interest in STEM at a young age.
- Incentivise college-aged women to pursue careers in STEM fields and professional women to commit to STEM career paths for the long-term.
- Establish EU funding to implement programmes to increase the number of women pursuing graduate level research in STEM fields.
- Fund more scholarships with leading academic institutions to increase the number of women enrolling in and graduating with STEM programmes and degrees.
- Establish EU funding to identify and implement best practices for attracting, recruiting and retaining the world’s best technical female talent.
- Encourage more positive reinforcement (mentoring programmes, career counselling) from an early age to stop a “leaky pipeline,” in which talented girls eventually steer away from careers in STEM and pursue work in fields where they believe they will perform better.
- Work towards more Digital Inclusion by investing in the closure of The Technology Gap so that more women have access to all forms of technology (Internet).