Gender equality paradox

contributions Feb 27, 2021

An interesting study in 2018 has shown that countries with more gender equality have fewer women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as opposed to countries that have less gender equality. The authors refer to this phenomenon as “the gender-equality paradox”. Although this notion was two year later disputed and corrected more studies on this subject are ongoing, as this recent study did indeed find a gender-equality paradox in mathematics. A clear reason was not yet been found, however researchers suggest that women in countries with higher gender inequality could be pursuing a more certain financial future and freedom, therefore seeking a path that leads to STEM professions. This notion spurred many conversations on online platforms with many perspectives. One way of understanding this paradox is that gender equal societies could broaden alternatives for women, allowing them to pursue careers that align more with their own passions.

While an approximately equivalent numbers of women and men start their careers in science even in liberal societies far less women make up the top level scientists. Throughout their career various obstacles referred to as the "leaky pipeline" require attention. Next to many societal restructuring, positive depictions and representations of women in STEM as role models can help to inspire girls around the world to try out STEM-activities. This will hopefully encourage them to stick with it into their post-secondary education and beyond.

Contribution: Sarah Ahhanach, PhD researcher at the department of Bioscience Engineering at the University of Antwerp.

Why I chose for STEM?
"My family migrated from Morocco to Belgium a few years before I was born. My upbringing was an interesting road towards harmonizing both the Moroccan and Belgian way of life. One thing that will always stay with me is the pride my family has for the significant contributions of the Arab world to science. This also prompted me to enter the science world. In the dark ages of medieval Europe, the “Golden Age” of Arabic science brought scientific and intellectual knowledge, and although tribute to the Arab world’s era of scientific achievement, roughly spanning the 8th through the 13th centuries, is often forgotten, these intellectual advancements have had an immense impact on today’s science, culture and technology."