[EDEQUITY Science Dialogue] Global-level

From: Christine Min Wotipka (cwotipka@stanford.edu)
Date: Fri Nov 17 2000 - 14:59:41 EST

I also have some suggestions regarding the ways in
which such global-level recommendations may be addressed at the
national and local levels.

Recall that the U.S. is no longer a member of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), one of the
sponsors of the WCS and organizer of the majority of international
conferences relating to science. Yet, Americans still participate as
panelists and participants in these conferences and follow-ups to them.
For example, Americans will participate in the International Conference
on Women in Physics (March 2002) sponsored by the International Union
of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). The primary purpose of the
conference is to explore ways to expand women's participation in physics
and is a direct follow-up to several items listed in the WCS documents
relating to women. One way to address recommendations made at the global
level is to plan similar follow-up conferences to explore more concrete
means to achieve important goals here in the U.S.

Indeed, such efforts are underway to ensure that the issue of women in
science takes on a more important role in future world conferences on
women such as the Fourth World Conference on Women which took place in
Beijing in 1995. The Association for Women in Science (AWIS,
http://www.awis.org) played a key role in this process at last June's
follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, "Women 2000:
Gender Equality Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century,"
more commonly known as Beijing +5. Over the course of three days,
AWIS organized several events with the aims of clarifying "the value and
importance of science and technology in relation to the relevant critical
areas of concern from the Beijing Platform for Action, and increas[ing]
the visibility of women in science in the global arena" and fostering
"participation and understanding of the scientific community, including
professionals and students, in the role they can play in policy
initiatives such as Beijing +5." Members of AWIS and those who attended
these events should feel free to comment on how Beijing +5 may impact
future conferences on women. There is room for other organizations in the
U.S. to join AWIS in fostering improvements for women in science at the
global level.

Although the documents stemming from these conferences are not legally
enforceable, international and national non-governmental organizations
play an increasing role in ensuring that countries and international
organizations live up to the promises made at such conferences. As we
learned last year, the Once and Future Action Network (whose president,
Jayshree Mehta, was a panelist of this discussion), was instrumental in
getting gender issues on the agenda at the WCS. What might they and
other groups do to actually enforce the recommendations from this and
other conferences?

As for specific things that could be done to address the issues covered by
the WCS documents, I encourage those who work on specific educational
or work programs aimed at increasing women in science to look over the
following items and inform us of the ways in which organizations and
projects in the U.S. are addressing recommendations made at the global
level. Although the U.S. cannot boast of the highest numbers of females
in scientific education or labor force participation, we can provide
models of successful programs aimed at women in science that may be
modified to fit the needs and interests of other countries around the
world. We also have a lot to learn from the experiences of those in other

Christine Min Wotipka
Stanford University School of Education

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