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Greater access to science and technology education has little effect in attracting women into areas such as engineering, physics and computer science where they make up less than 30% in degree programmes. In countries where there is an increase in the number of women studying science and technology, the growth in the number of women graduates has not necessarily translated into more women in the workplace. A “multi-dimensional policymaking approach” is deemed necessary to bring more women into science, according to Sophia Huyer, the lead researcher of a pilot study on women in science covering six countries: Brazil, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, the United States and one region: the European Union (EU).
In this comparative study, the EU fares comparatively well as a whole, considering the wide variation among EU member states in terms of social support, GDP, and promotion of science, technology and innovation (STI). It ranks first overall, and first or second in every dimension compared. Several initiatives in the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), such as the Science in Society Initiative that provides financial support to research organisations to establish gender equality plans and the Marie Curie Actions, in which nearly 40% of the researchers funded are women, are said to have made a difference.
Following the pilot study, national researchers from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda will join Phase Two of the study.