Science – Technology – Innovation:Closing the Gender Gap to Meet the SDGs


Empower Women – gender, STI and the SDGs

Gender equality underpins all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals – it isn’t confined to SDG5 which explicitly targets discrimination, exploitation and violence directed at women and girls. So the SDGs that demand action on equitable distribution and access to science, technology and innovation (STI) are aimed not just at the world’s poorest and least developed communities, but at women and girls everywhere.

In March, UN Women, WIPO and UNESCO held an Expert Group Meeting where we looked at these linkages in the context of possible future scenarios (see background note),  and gleaned a number of insights on potential trends, challenges and opportunities around gender and STI. And then, between 24 April and 8 May this year, we hosted an online discussion about this vital area of gender equality, asking the Empower Women community for their input.

We posed five questions that focused on inclusion, community, technology, resources and stereotypes. Your responses will help us work with national governments and policy makers to better plan and develop strategies that not only respond to today’s challenges, but also position women and issues of gender equality in STI looking forward.

The Empower Women community was also asked to imagine a future where gender equality in STI had been achieved, and where STI promoted women’s empowerment, gender equality and social good. This is what you said about what this future looks like and how we get there.


We asked – is “inclusion” enough? Will just having greater numbers of women in the STI ecosystem bring the future we want?

Inclusion as ‘more women’

Inclusion is often thought of in terms of increasing the numbers of women at every level of STI, from education, through entry level and up to decision-making positions.

However Hillary Strobel, social impact specialist and storyteller said: “Inclusion is not enough if proper care is not given to crafting an environment that meets the needs of both women and men equally. Plugging more women into a system that was built by and for the needs of men isn’t sustainable in the long run. Inevitable result: women don’t thrive equally there.”

This proof of this, she said, was the number of women dropping out in large numbers in mid-career. The consensus was, however, that encouraging more women to qualify and work in STI sectors was an important first step that matters for a number of reasons.

The ‘cultural bottleneck’ that constrains how many women can – or want to – join the sector has to be cleared. More women in the field, said some, would help close a number of facets of the gender gap – fairness, representation and generally held perceptions of what women can and can’t do. Higher numbers of women in STI would make for more dynamic and more sustainable STI, and inject much-needed balance into the field’s perceptions of what end-users – female and male – want.

To do this, said contributors, we can learn from other diversity-increasing initiatives such as parliamentary representation programs and supply-chain schemes.

Reading inclusion more broadly

However, contributors were also clear that ‘inclusion’, even in the context of getting more women into STI, needs to be read more broadly. It should include issues such as the quality of roles and working conditions in the field rather than the raw quantity, and a recognition that ‘women’ are not a homogenous group.

 “10 great women who are working in an environment that is equally great are going to affect much more quality, lasting change than 100 great women working in a poor environment,” said Hillary Strobel. Others talked of the need for women mentors in our (especially girls’) daily lives, and especially in the lives of girls and young women.

Think intersectionalities and pay attention to needs of women with disabilities, said others. In fact, technology was likely to be great aid to the inclusion of the all society’s most vulnerable groups, offering access to health information, simple communication, and opportunities for independence and economic empowerment.

Inclusion that was real, rather than a PR exercise, would go beyond numbers and highlight certain valuable traits and characteristics typically seen as female’. Women’s ability to thrive and be competitive in STI also critically depended on the quality of the workplace environment and access to funding.

Inclusion alone is not enough

Most contributors felt strongly that inclusion was not enough and drew attention to the limitations of a focus on numbers, and highlighted other approaches that would lead to more gender-transformative STI.

Inclusion is too often framed as a ‘business case’, ‘bright futures’ or ‘economic opportunity’. Instead, the focus needs to shift to the development of education and working environments that encourage a range of values and competencies. These include collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, innovation, ethics and a knowledge of human rights and social responsibility alongside STEM subject teaching.

Women can find that inclusion is trap that ties them into patriarchal systems, cultures and rules and relations. Gloria Bonder, founder of the Center for Women’s studies, said: “When that happens, research proves that women’s options are to assimilate to that culture either as a second class, or as newcomers eager to be recognized within existing values and parameters. Or [they] abandon education careers, jobs or positions many times, living that as their own failure. Transformational change is more difficult and is long and never-ending process – but is [requisite] with the aspiration of a more fair, supportive and happier society.”

The overall influence of women and girls within STI systems and the relevance of STI to their needs and wants should also be taken into account. The influence of women is not only needed from the top down or in absolute numbers in ‘industry’. It should also feed in from the bottom up, and via inclusive channels through, for instance, participatory policy development, public comment and accountability mechanisms. We need to ensure that women and girls are active in these spaces.

Said Joanna Robaczewska, “We [tend to] look at individual contributions by using performance and output measures (what one can do, how much, how fast) instead of recognizing the actual impact on the individuals, community, society and economy – which is far more important for sustainable development.”

A more systematic approach should also address structural constraints such as discriminatory laws, access to and control over resources, participation in economic life, norms, access to health services and education, and decision-making power in the home.

Ultimately, inclusiveness needs to be built into the entire development infrastructure and reflected in political stability, well-functioning institutions, an educated workforce, a sound research and education infrastructure and linkage between public and private innovation actors. STI could play a key role in achieving this and in the overall development process.


“Go to the people: live with them, learn from them, start with what they know, build what they have.” Lao Tzu

The online discussion also posed the question of whether bottom-up and community-level engagement of women in STI offers additional or greater opportunities for creating more gender responsive STI, including in comparison to more top down systems?

It was agreed that both bottom-up and community-level engagement were essential.

As almost every grass-roots movement proves, bottom-up leadership creates a huge positive impact. Of course, ‘bottom-up’ no longer means only groups of people physically coming together to cooperate and act; the creation of virtual and online communities can bring influence to bear on a range of fronts.


Bottom-up influencers can be a ‘check and balance’; they can counter fears that ‘the master will use his tools to dismantle his own house’, and build a community’s confidence to collectively speak truth to power. By bringing to the fore inconvenient truths that counter mainstream patriarchal interests, they can disseminate ideas, develop organizing strategies and stimulate and coordinate opposition. When women form this type of ‘unionizing’ partnership, they build strength through numbers. The great advantage is that while the top levels of STI sector management and much formal science continue to be male-dominated, bottom-up power may offer an entry point for women and girls to get involved and exert influence

Education and awareness

Education is another bottom-up tool where it allows girls to develop their potential in STEM subjects so that their drive and interest serve as motivators. Awareness and information about the benefits of STEM for women and girls needs to be disseminated at the community level.


A key example of why STI ownership among women is crucial is food production. Women handle over 65% of food production and it is self-evident that they will want to know about improved planting methods, improved crop services and improved processing methods. When women are given access to education and information about the potential of STIs, they can become powerful creators of food production solutions that, for instance, reduce labour and improved standards of living. They also then see the need to encourage their daughters to pursue STEM subjects – and, in fact, to go to school.

STI innovation should address such issues of ownership, focusing on approaches that ask what communities really need.

Some caveats

However, the ‘top’ of the pyramid is still important and someone there still needs to be listening, says Hillary Stobel. “The World Bank points out in its citizen engagement project that meeting people involved in grass-roots change-making is only as effective as the overarching system is willing to accept that change. That fundamental social change – the top-down change – must also include women who are invested in the bigger picture.” It should also be borne in mind that the dichotomy of top-down and bottom up is not always useful – both levels influence and reinforce each other.

‘Group-think’ is a potential drawback of bottom-up action. Also, as one contributor put it: “There are as many ideas, motivations, special interests etc ., as there are people”. So how do we ensure that the narrative/message is well thought out? This suggests that we also need to consider how we break down the silo walls between women (for instance, poverty, privilege, race) and find what women have in common that will allow them to build social structures that supersede their immediate physical environments. Technology may well be a very useful tool for this process because it can transcend physical space. So it is important to look at mechanisms such as social media that can connect otherwise siloed women, or connect the top of the STI field to the ‘bottom’.

It also has to be said that time is a scarce resources for many women, and both bottom-up and community action can be time-consuming.


Contributors were also asked how technology might break down existing societal and power structures and / or create new ones?  What are the implications for gender and STI – and is this a transformative opportunity that will shift underlying attitudes and practices and structural barriers around gender and result in positive substantive gains for women and society?

Sabin Muzzafar, founder of digital magazine Ananke, said: “Technology is not only on the forefront of every socio-economic and political endeavour, but it is the pillar on which all endeavours are made – so if you have equal representation in STI it will lead to greater, fairer representation in other spheres of society as well. ”  

Technology was mostly discussed in the context of the Internet. Contributors saw it as vitally important, but also as a double-edge sword. While technology itself is neutral, society and our systems that give it a gendered nature. Effort should be invested in making technology subservient to the principles driving it (and its use) and ensuring that it does not create or advance inhibitors. There has to be a focus on rights and ethics in technology development – and we should remember that it can also be positively subversive.


Technology can bring powerful positive change to women’s lives; it offers economic empowerment and borderless jobs and the reduction of unpaid care work.

It can alert them to rights that are denied or unknown to them, bypassing traditional, off-limits or hard-to-access channels of information. It can empower them to question norms and offer new horizons and perspectives.

Its power to build communication and engagement can help break down old power structures and societal constraints. It has already been important for cross-cultural learning and understanding, helping women in many regions to understand their potential, skills and capabilities and to become effective in society. Contributors gave the examples of Arabic women and women in Afghanistan living in traditional and ‘closed’ societies, for whom information technology had opened up new horizons.

Information technology also makes ‘lightening quick’ engagement possible and, more than that, has also been shown capable of creating longer-term ‘thick’ engagement through issue-based platforms and software tools.

Finally, the internet is a highly accessible avenue towards learning for women and can help them fill the gaps in their STI engagement. It can keep them aware of technological developments and encourage them to adopt innovative practices and can allow for grassroots development rather than leaving people helpless while they wait for government or some other agency to deliver solutions.


Technology may not be viewed so favourably by women who fear it may take more away from them than it gives – for instance, semi-skilled women whose jobs might be lost to automation, such as the 3D printing of the craft products that give them their livelihood. And while technology can transcend boundaries, it can also be used by authorities to control and separate groups.

Clearly, by no means all women have access to or the freedom to use information technology. Even where they do, exposure to new ideas and the chance to learn, share and connect globally may not always be translated at the local micro-level into action. This can particularly be the case where family and community relationships play a stronger role in defining lives – and this is something that needs to be tackled.

Digital and financial inclusion platforms do empower, but use of them demands literacy and training. Those agencies interested in digital transformation and standardization should join forces, said contributors. There is also a need to find ways of overcoming the growing gaps in online access, and this is not just a matter of having the means to access hardware, but also the soft skills required to be able to use the technology.

Technology needs to be incorporated into our classrooms to inspire creativity and – crucially – early uptake among girls and young women. This will require a different approach to education with an emphasis on high-level skills that considers the implications for employment and provides both girls and boys with sound technical training. “The next generation of creators will embrace technology as their first language; learn by collaborating and communicating with anyone in the world; and create with touch, command with voice, and conceptualize in education,” said Peace Uzoma of Nigeria’s Youth for Technology Foundation.

The power that technology offers must be fairly distributed between all groups, including between genders, for it to support sustainability.

Most importantly, we need to move away from ‘perpetual pilot syndrome’ when trying to advance technology take-up and development. Instead, said contributors, we need a start-up mindset that treats people as people rather than guinea pigs in an experiment.  Scaling up can happen quickly and even ‘virally’ with the right enabling environment.

Key technologies to watch

The discussion highlighted a range of areas in which contributors expected technology to come to the fore soon. These included the green economy (clean energy and water; IoT; additive manufacturing;  artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous vehicles; nano- and biotechnology; materials science; energy storage; quantum computing and data science; and convergence of biological and technological systems.


Looking to the future, which resources will become more scarce / more valued, who will control and govern them and what overall value system will underlie resource development and allocation? We also asked the community what this means for gender and STI – what are the opportunities and challenges for women in various contexts and for those women directing and reaping the benefits of STI?

Within the resource discussion, it was felt that technology and education as an input to human resources would be essential and would determine the use and allocation of resources going forward. How resources are distributed – whether along gender lines and traditional ‘power’ lines - has not yet been answered.


Education can be transformative and must be a policy priority. Continued skill development and STEM education will need to be an integral part of education, and girls need to be included very early on at elementary school level. Teaching needs to be hands-on, applied and real-world. Technology and STEM teacher training is critical to the quality of the education delivered.  

Mentoring and skilling-up significant numbers of women will be a key ingredient of technology-focused education that reaches girls, and it will need to be focused on its likely benefits in daily life

To keep up with technology changes, human resources will require PPP to make sure that skills and skill development is sustainable. A clear motive for investing in high quality education for all is that highly skilled and innovative labour will be valuable resources as technology evolves. Women’s entrepreneurial skills are important too, and they need the skills and knowledge to commercialize their own inventions.

If the development and distribution of STI is not inclusive, then emerging technologies in particular may generate extreme inequalities, and as natural resources become more scarce, technology will be an important resource to redress the balance and sustain good living and working conditions for all.

Contributors ended this discussion by posing a further question - how do we develop or allocate the resources created by technology, and how do we keep a check on that?


Finally, the community considered how we might dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?

Acting to combat stereotypes

Work to diminish the power of stereotypes needs to take place at every level in every sphere – from top to bottom of society, and at home, school, in organisations and in the political and social arenas. 

We need to raise awareness amongst primary social agents – parents, families, immediate community circles –since they are the educators who influence girls’ perceptions most, starting at birth. Care, learning and interaction in the early years; teachers and curricula at school; and whether girls are allowed access to hands-on learning environments at home or in education.

Conscious and unconscious bias in mass and social media has to be challenged – seeing is believing, said contributors, and these fora are powerful influencers. But so too is interaction with peers and the socialization process, and this focuses attention on the need for positive role models and mentors to build girls’ confidence, show them the possibilities and help them overcome obstacles. Women leading women helps inspires yet more women to break through the mental chains placed on them.

In some communities, there was a real danger that those forces and agents who are unwilling to relinquish power to women might deny them access to education and healthcare as a way of maintaining their control. It might be possible to anticipate this kind of backlash and mitigate the blowback.

Key factors that help perpetuate female stereotypes were identified. For instance, a move towards equal care responsibilities at home would make a difference in creating opportunities for women. Equally, moves to shift gender norms needed to take into account male norms and involve men in the conversation. A focus on changing men’s mindsets should consider the drivers behind male mindsets of rage, repression, and scarcity, and include men in gender diversity initiatives. Men’s involvement in changing stereotypes adds a layer of legitimacy, whether real or perceived, and increases buy-in.

Finally, technology can be used to combat and debunk a powerful aspect of stereotyping - taboos  such as breastfeeding, menstruation and FGM. It can be used to educate and, with repetition, condition.  

Stereotypes around STI

Contributors identified several ways in which the norm that ‘STI is not for girls’ or ‘women have no aptitude for STI’ might be challenged.

  • Parenting programmes could include messages on how to encourage daughters to be interested in and enjoy STI subjects.
  • The emphasis on how the STI ecosystem is shaped could be shifted so that women and men develop it together – for instance, workplaces currently reflect men’s thinking processes.
  • STI workplace environments could be made more inclusive and ‘woman-friendly’, and CEOs and top levels of corporate management must make gender equality a priority. Outcomes of these types of initiatives might include revised codes of conduct and more inclusive policies and regulations.
  • The male-dominated nature of the STI field might be dismantled through equal representation.
  • Corporate understanding of what constitutes a productive employee needs to be revised away from the full time, conventional working hours model and towards more flexible forms of work.

Overall messages


The challenge is to create a vision of the kind of future we want to see. We need to be prepared to build the world that just might work instead of continuing with what hasn’t worked.

This would require a paradigm shift away from consumption-based societies. Resource allocation is a global issue, not local or national, and affects the whole family of humanity. We need to develop social cultures that value happiness, sharing and taking care of each other; that are willing to replenish resources in a communal setting; and accept rights-based development driven by women’s rights.


Ultimately the key issue is power relations. Gender is a social construct, but also one that serves power relations in contexts such as family, community, society and economic systems. Power has a way of reproducing itself and finding new avenues for control. This may continue to break down along gender lines or may be manifested in other forms of inequality (haves and have-nots, with gender equality perhaps only for the ‘haves’). It is essential to be constantly mindful of this dynamic and it seems that there is emerging recognition of this in the mainstream media.

Power relations (gender, socio-economic, cultural forms) can be seen in the way that resources, autonomy, capacities, opportunities and other social goods are distributed or denied to women. This in turn determines how women can lead and benefit from STI. Key assumptions that must be questioned are our conceptions of power, and our theories of change about how the playing field might be levelled for women in areas such as education, policy and planning strategies.

Systematic Approaches

While there was very strong support for community engagement strategies and bottom up efforts among our contributors, women need to be involved in both bottom-up emergent leadership and top-down ecosystem design. Each level of influence is crucial to the success of future generations of women and STI.

Shifting perceptions and norms is a vital aspect of breaking down stereotypes, and this needs to involve all levels of society – and men. Pervasive stereotypes and norms begin to shape behaviour and aspirations from the earliest years in home life, and continue in the workplace and beyond.

Structural constraints and overall ecosystems need to be addressed.

Education and Skill Development

The most essential first step is delivering early and comprehensive education for girls on STI and in the ecosystem, that surrounds them. This is necessary but it is not happening.

STEM education needs to be extended to include skills such as social responsibility, leadership, critical thinking and humanity so that STI takes account of human needs and the social good.

A crucial question is whether women can be positioned to leapfrog straight to high value, new economy or society positions. At present women are often playing catch-up in STI sectors, and in accessing and benefitting from technology.

Emphasis within STI

While the common perception of STI focusses largely on digital technology and the internet, there are many aspects of STI that are seemingly not adequately on the radar. Assumptions about what STI is and can do need to be expanded.

Properly directed, technology can be subversive in breaking down harmful practices and narratives.

Policy mechanisms

Shaping future policy objectives now will help create the tools needed to anticipate, plan, check assumptions and embrace systems thinking, so that we can better address the complexity and rapidly changing nature of gender and STI for SDGs.


The Sustainable Development Goals represent the commitment of member states and others in the global community to achieve social, economic and environmental justice for a sustainable world. Advancement of gender equality, and equitable science, technology and innovation (STI) are explicit objectives under several of the SDGs, but they also underpin all of them.

In March, UN Women, WIPO and UNESCO held an Expert Group Meeting where we looked at these linkages in the context of possible future scenarios (see background note),  and gleaned a number of insights on potential trends, challenges and opportunities around gender and STI.

We are inviting you to consider and respond to five questions below derived from this process to help us work with national governments and policy makers to better plan and develop strategies that 1) respond to today’s challenges but also position women and issues of gender equality in STI looking forward and 2) that realize our preferred future.

UN Women, WIPO and UNESCO are asking you to imagine a future where gender equality in STI, and STI that promotes women’s empowerment, gender equality and social good, is achieved. What does this preferred future look like and how do we get there?

What are your reactions and thoughts on the following questions and propositions which may influence this future? Where are examples of current practices that, if amplified, would enable us to better respond to changing realities and realize opportunities while preventing or mitigating threats?


Q1. Is “inclusion” enough? Does just having greater numbers of women in the STI ecosystem result in the future we want?

Q2. Does bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI offer additional or greater opportunities for creating more gender responsive STI, including in comparison to more top down systems? 

Q3. How might technology break down existing societal and power structures and / or create new ones?  What are the implications for gender and STI and is this a transformative opportunity that will shift underlying attitudes and practices and structural barriers around gender and result in positive substantive gains for women and society?

Q4. Looking to the future, which resources will become more scarce / more valued, who will control and govern them and what overall value system will underlie resource development and allocation? What does this mean for gender and STI and what are the opportunities and challenges for women in various contexts and in directing and reaping the benefits of STI?

Q5. How do we dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?


Lubna Dajani - Futuristas, Co-Founder

A  visionary leader with 25+ years of experience in creating digital transformation in a vast array of industries and companies from just an idea to multi-billion dollar, including non-profit and NGO’s. Lubna is currently the Chief Strategy Officer for Intercede, a cyber-secutrity company focused on identity, a visiting scholar at NYU and Co-Founder of Futuristas, an organization  dedicated to empowering, inspiring and supporting girls and young women professionals in science, technology and the arts. She is always found at the heart of the action bringing an important innovation, new concept or out of the box idea which is focussed on improvement and new found value, with a passion for creating holistic user experiences, which bridge the digital and physical world. As an international speaker and author she brings  viewpoints on the opportunities created at the intersection of disruptive technologies from datavisualization, AI, and immersive experiences to digital fabrication; as these technologies are fueling the new wave of innovation. Inventor of Allternet and Co-Founder of MobileMondays. Honored Mobile Women to Watch in 2010 by Mobile Marketer and among Silicon Alley’s Top 100s.

Peace Uzoma - Youth for Technology Foundation, Programme manager.  

Peace oversees the implementation of various gender-related programmes, positively impacting the lives of many Nigerian girls in STEM, entrepreneurship, and life skills. She mentors dozens of girls and young women with the focus of inspiring them as the next generation of innovators. Gender equality is critical in Nigeria—each girl learns to overcome cultural/systemic biases and to use skills that frees them a life of suppressed dreams. The Youth for Technology Foundation use human-centered learning. Participants learn skills to address local problems and use technology in response. Experts teach girls how to ask questions and find answers to issues that affect them through project-based learning. In doing so, they learn such important skills as leadership, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and teamwork.

Mark Kaplan - Unilever,  Global VP, Sustainable Solutions 

Mark is a globally experienced and recognized thought leader in the mobile marketing industry. During his career Mark has led the creation, production and commercialization of platforms in mobile commerce (PayPal Text2Buy), mobile donation (Text2Give), and mobile sampling (ShopText). PayPal and Text 2 Buy/Give are now fully merged into the overall PayPal Mobile product and form one of the most successful mCommerce platforms in the world. Mark has also led and managed foundational global platform strategies for Fortune 100 corporations such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, ESPN and Nike. Specifically, Mark led the strategies for Nike Jordan’s first mobile campaign, ESPNs first apps (BottomlinePro, Gamecast and Fantasy Football) and integrated messaging campaign (Who’s Hot on Sportscenter), the foundation of P&Gs global mobile marketing enterprise, and Coca-Cola’s 2012 London Olympics platform that won campaign of the year from the Mobile Marketing Association. Mark was also the founding Co-Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association (“MMA”) mCommerce committee, co-author of MMA mobile couponing best practices and CTIA’s connectivity matrix.

This discussion run from 24 April until 8 May. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Clare Mukolwe-Gallazzini
    Thank you for including me on this e-discussion forum.  I just received it but happy to provide a brief response.

    Q2. Does bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI offer additional or greater opportunities for creating more gender responsive STI, including in comparison to more top down systems? 

    I believe a bottom up and community level engagement approach would provide great opportunities for a gender responsive STI.  If little girls are encouraged to take part in STI projects and educational fairs, their interest in these areas will most definately be ignited at a very early stage in life, leading to a positive ripple effect.

    For example, if a little girl wins first place in her elementary school science project, she becomes motivated to do more.  If she is paired with the right academic mentor at this point, she will receive proper guidance and invaluable feedback as she progresses in her new found area of interest. By the time she gets to High School, her confidence and ability to excel in Science multiplies.  This gives her a competitive advantage over other students who have not been exposed the same kind of learning opportunities that she has.  It also provides her with an opportunity to stand out as best in class, leading to possible scholarship or sponsorship opportunities for higher level education in her desired field of interest.  

    Supposing the above approach is adopted for several girls with a keen interest in respective STI programs, the result would be the creation of a more responsive system in these areas: Science - Technology -Innovation.

    In contrast, a top down system may not be as impactful.  For instance, if the girls are given an opportunity to ignite their interest early on in school, their passion for Science Technology or Innovation would most likely provide them with a competitve advantage in their respective careers, over someone who may have been appointed or brought in using a top down approach.
    To conclude, the bottom up approach is sustainable.  Unfortunately, since girls around the world may not necessarily have access to the same educational opportunities from an early point in life.  As such, they would not be able to compete or perform as effectively as they would otherwise.
  • Hillary Strobel

    Q5. How do we dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?

    It is difficult to overestimate the impact that centuries of subjugation have had on both women and men. There are the obvious legal, cultural, and financial penalties inflicted on women, and there are also “soft” hardships for men, who must carry the burdens of being a repressor in themselves.

    I think one of the first things that both women and men must do in their language regarding empowerment is to ensure that men are equally included in that. Many “men’s rights” groups talk about how feminism has left them out in the cold. They may or may not directly hate women or want to consciously oppress women; they just wonder where their half of the bargain went. While I disagree with most of the men’s rights platform, I do not disagree that the everyday, colloquial language of feminism must consciously address the pain of men who have lived their lives under the grueling thumb of repressed feelings, misdirected rage, and scarcity mindsets.

    How this relates to STI specifically goes back, again, to Answer Two, in that women and men must participate equally in shaping the ecosystem so that it can meet the needs of both groups. Each has unique strengths and each shares strengths with the other equally. STI has, I believe, a very unique opportunity to lead the global movement toward gender equality, as technology is so utterly entwined in our daily lives. When STI leaders begin to demonstrate equality and inclusive ecosystem growth, the rest of the world will naturally follow suit.

  • Hillary Strobel

    Q4. Looking to the future, which resources will become more scarce / more valued, who will control and govern them and what overall value system will underlie resource development and allocation? What does this mean for gender and STI and what are the opportunities and challenges for women in various contexts and in directing and reaping the benefits of STI?

    In my dream world, which I know is completely possible, women and men will have equal control of resources. The question is, will these resource allocations be demarcated by “typical” gender roles or not? Banking is already becoming more just—as the explosive growth of impact investing and patient capital can attest—and since the field is young, there is ample opportunity for women to get involved. I foresee many women-owned STI businesses getting funding from these innovative investment funds.

    Although contemporary political actions in the United States may not demonstrate this, women continue to make huge strides both personally and professionally. In fact, I see many of the actions of the current government as a “backlash” against female (and LGBTQ and minority) empowerment, and this reactionary behavior cannot last for too much longer—it’s just simply not sustainable. A very interesting article in the Washington Post recently declared that a war for America’s soul is underway, and the regressive thinkers who are currently in charge won’t be able to stem the tide.

    The challenge will then become, what kind of future do we actually want to see? What should the “winning” side in this battle over our souls look like? We know what hasn’t worked so far, and we need to be prepared to build the world that just might work instead. I refer back to Answer Two, in that women need to be operational at all levels of engagement, from the grassroots to the top-most heights, in every sector of society: finance, work, home, play, families, and the environment. Women must be prepared on a moment’s notice to be actively, forcefully working on developing policy platforms, quality of life manifestos, calls to spirituality, and innovative paths to engagement (especially with regards to technology!).

    Of course, there will continue to be blowback such as we are seeing today, with attempts to strip citizens of access to healthcare and education as a ploy to maintain control and power, but these efforts will diminish in time. The challenge will be in endurance, and we know women have that in spades!

  • Hillary Strobel

    Q3. How might technology break down existing societal and power structures and / or create new ones?  What are the implications for gender and STI and is this a transformative opportunity that will shift underlying attitudes and practices and structural barriers around gender and result in positive substantive gains for women and society?

    Technology has the fantastic quality of creating lightning-quick thin engagement possible; think about viral videos and Facebook shares that get people “in the know” about events like marches and protest rallies. Technology also has the ability to make longer-term thick engagement possible with the creation of platforms and software tools.

    I believe that women who create these thicker-engagement tools will do so with an eye toward building stories and encouraging interaction. My colleagues and I do this on a regular basis, and while we are starting small with one-on-one story engagement, we see huge possibility for global movements that begin with sharing a single commonality among women.

    Our thesis is that women tend to see themselves in silos. Privileged women do not tend to see the difficulties faced by less fortunate women and therefore do not know their participation is needed, and women at the bottom of the pyramid are surrounded by cultures that send the message that there’s absolutely nothing for them “outside.” We feel that sharing and building stories of common experience, say in relation to domestic violence or single motherhood, will allow women to build social structures that supersede their immediate physical environments. Our technology platform will facilitate this movement, and we know we aren’t the only ones thinking this way about what’s possible.

    If our thesis proves correct, and our Minimum Viable Product so far indicates that we are indeed on the right track, then technology has every chance to change attitudes and practices. Women who are aware of and connected to one another are unstoppable. That is why current practices dictate keeping us separate from one another as a means to control us.

  • Hillary Strobel

    Q2. Does bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI offer additional or greater opportunities for creating more gender responsive STI, including in comparison to more top down systems? 

    The answer to Question One therefore informs the answer to Question Two. Women must be included in positions of both bottom-up emergent leadership and top-down ecosystem design. Each level of influence is crucial to the success of future generations of women in STI.

    There is no question that bottom-up leadership will make a huge positive impact on the futures of women in STI. Any number of grassroots movements would prove that theory out, including the successes of Second Wave Feminism in the mid- to late-20th century. However, the shortcomings of each of those movements is also reflective of the greater society in which those movements are operating.

    The World Bank points out in its Citizen Engagement project that getting people involved in grassroots change-making is only as effective as the overarching system is willing to accept that change. That fundamental social change—the top-down change—must also include women who are invested in the bigger picture.

    Certainly, there are more opportunities for greater numbers of women to get involved in STI at the grassroots level, and this is very important. The gender responsiveness they can create will be powerful indeed. There simultaneously needs to be someone listening from the top down to this movement, and that is why women also need to have a strong presence at that level. In the end, each will inform the other—generally accepted social science theories admit that there is no longer value in creating dichotomies to explain human behavior. We must strive for inclusion and for accepting the idea that both levels constantly influence and reinforce the other, thereby creating a virtuous cycle.

  • Hillary Strobel

    Q1. Is “inclusion” enough? Does just having greater numbers of women in the STI ecosystem result in the future we want?

    Inclusion is not enough if proper care is not given to crafting an environment that meets the needs of both men and women equally. Plugging more women into a system that was built by and for the needs of men isn’t sustainable over the long run. Author and Yale alumnus Tara Mohr wrote, “[Women] had been allowed to join the institution [Yale] and participate in it, but there had been no inquiry into how to significantly adapt the institution so that women and men would thrive equally there.” Inevitable result: women and men do not thrive equally there.

    I feel that this is the tipping point we are currently witnessing: for decades, women have been entering the work force, and this has contributed immensely to elements of empowerment such as financial gains. But the system into which they entered has largely been left unchecked and unchanged. During those same decades, women have not had significant opportunity to craft employment policy or regulations or have a meaningful impact on how work is valued and performed. This is why we are now seeing large numbers of incredibly qualified women quitting STI, why employers are encouraging cultures of blowback while simultaneously being sued for it, and stagnancy in both innovation and in real benefits.

    The question itself is reductive: simply having more of something doesn’t make anything “better,” necessarily; there are economic theories to back this up (the law of diminishing returns comes to mind). The quality of the ecosystem is much more valuable than the size of the ecosystem in driving future growth and success. 10 great women who are working in an environment that is equally great are going to affect much more quality, lasting change than 100 great women working in a poor environment.

  • Theophania Chavatzia

    It’s been very informative to follow the discussions on closing the gender gap in STI to meet the SDGs and learn from different perspectives. I would like to provide some perspectives on Q5: How do we dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?

    UNESCO has been carrying research on the potential reasons behind the gender differences observed in STEM education and careers. The findings are compiled in a report, which will be launched in the UNESCO International Symposium and Policy Forum on 28-29 August 2017, in Bangkok Thailand.

    Evidence shows that bias, conscious or unconscious, are passed on to girls since their birth: at home, in the way they are brought up and the opportunities they have for care, learning, play and interaction with others; at school, from teachers and curricula to the entire school environment; through mass and social media and the way female characters are depicted in written and audio-visual material; through interaction with peers and others during the socialization process. It is therefore vital to raise awareness among all these primary social agents who influence girls’ perceptions most. In addition, positive role models and mentors can reach girls directly to build their confidence and show them the way to more possibilities and options and help them overcome any possible challenges.

    Education has a huge transformative potential and must be part of any policy priority to promote gender equality in STI. At school, this is the time when girls consolidate their views about their identities and make decisions about their future studies and careers. Teachers, curricula and the whole school environment and learning experience play a key role in either reinforcing negative stereotypes about girls in STEM or in dismantling them. Adequately trained teachers, both specialized in STEM fields and also trained in gender-transformative approaches can recognize girls disadvantage and empower them and encourage them to meet their potential. Textbooks, curricula and the learning process, which take into consideration girls’ interests and learning style, provide hands on learning opportunities and connect learning with real world issues rather just abstract concepts, can help stimulate interest and engage girls with STEM.

    Starting early and building on good quality education to capture girls’ interest and engagement in STEM will open up the horizons for their future engagement in STI fields.

    Many thanks again to the organizers and moderators for the opportunity to participate in this discussion.

    Theophania Chavatzia

    Section of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality



  • Peace Uzoma

     Dear colleagues,


    I want to appreciate you all for finding time to be part of this significant discussion on science-Technology and Innovation. You have made wonderful contributions.


    Looking into the future there will be more technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing. This will increase the demand for highly skilled workers.


    With the above in place, some challenges may arise such as higher level of gender inequality, the displacement of humans by machines. This has to be prevented by proper education on STEM- more practical approach that sight visits to see STI/ STEM in action. Such as incorporating technology as part of our classrooms. Technology can inspire creativity in today’s classrooms, where the makers of tomorrow reside. This next generation of creators will embrace technology as their first language; learn by collaborating and communicating with anyone in the world; and create with touch, command with voice, and conceptualize in 3D,


    In addition to your inputs, an additional way to dismantle gender stereotype is by making it a top board and CEO priority.

    Organizations can help to overcome this barrier by addressing unconscious bias and including men in gender diversity initiatives. Many companies unwittingly exclude men from the gender diversity conversation and give the impression that it is a women-only issue. Yet men are the largest stakeholder group in most private and public sector companies and organizations. (Data published by Women Matter Africa)



    Looking forward for more inputs from you as we wrap-up today.

    Thank You.

  • tess mateo
    Influencing more females, of all ages, to pursue high growth wealth creating opportunities in "green economy (clean energy & water)" and digital infrastructure sectors is one of my passions.  As Jennifer B mentioned earlier, we are entering the 4th Industrial Revolution, the convergence of biological and technological systems as computing power exponentially grows, and it is an opportune time for educated females, particularly in emerging economies with a growing middle class, to leapfrog their male counterparts by harnessing the knowledge and experience of those in developed economies.  Exchanges like these, using enabling technologies, where we can share across borders will help accelerate the changes we all seek.

    Q1. Is “inclusion” enough? Does just having greater numbers of women in the STI ecosystem result in the future we want?

    Agree with others that inclusion and quotas/greater numbers are necessary but they are not enough to achieve the balanced and equitable future we want.  As Sabin mentioned, inclusion is just the beginning.  Perhaps there are learnings from related movements like increasing women on corporate boards, in parliament, in leadership, in supply chains etc. Need a more systematic approac, including the involvement of various and diverse stakeholders so recruiting/retaining females of all ages and capabilities in STI is sustainable.

    One example of a systematic approach involves increasing women's economic opportunities/SDG5, ITC's Global Platform for Sourcing from Women Vendors… there are multiple public private partnerships and programs that help :1) women business owners in developing countries obtain adequate training and information as well as build global networks 2) governments to find and source from women vendors 3) companies leverage their infrastructure and talent to help these female entrepreneurs succeed as well as 4) build a pipeline of female entrepreneurship… various NGOs, academia, businesses, governments/policy makers are all actively engaged and share a common vision and platform

    Q2. Does bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI offer additional or greater opportunities for creating more gender responsive STI, including in comparison to more top down systems? 

    Like many others have said, you need both bottom up and top down. And don’t forget the online and virtual communities as well. Which approach is best depends on the audience and context. Successful movements do both and while the groups could be independent of one another, they share a common vision and reinforce each other. An important priority is to include the education of girls which is critical in building a sustainable pipeline of females in STI. Some tech companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Apple have offices in a number of countries and welcome opportunities to partner and develop local STI talent.

    To add to the examples already shared, there are some excellent one in ICT in the recently published book titled Internet of Women, Accelerating Culture Change They include some in UAE, Jamaica, Gaza and Kurdistan

    Another scalable example is he UN Foundation’s GirlUp campaign and their STEAM camp bringing girls from a dozen countries to learn together and develop mentoring relationships.

  • Sabin Muzaffar
    Q1. Is “inclusion” enough? Does just having greater numbers of women in the STI ecosystem result in the future we want?

    Ans: Inclusion is just the beginning... It is an important stepping stone that is essential to kickstart positive change and sustainable development. At this point in time, when there is so much disparity and a big gap in numbers as far as women in technology or for that matter in the STI is concerened. So I would say greater number is needed to close that gap... equal numbers are important because proper representation is needed in the fields of STI to fairly represent women. Women are half of the population of the world, therefore any innovation... scientific or tech endeveaor without  equal or fair represenation - the outcome would nether be fair, nor representative, dynamic or even sustainable.

    Q2. Does bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI offer additional or greater opportunities for creating more gender responsive STI, including in comparison to more top down systems? 

    Ans: Yes, it absolutely does. To look closely, all innovation is essentially for the benefit of the public... the masses, so when you have community level engagement of women - it would enable ownership of the entire community because it will be having representation of an important member of the community. Moreover, having community level, gender centric engagement also means innovation is being done with a more focused approach to what is actually required by the community as the engagement is bottom up and the needs will be taken into consideration. 

    Q3. How might technology break down existing societal and power structures and / or create new ones?  What are the implications for gender and STI and is this a transformative opportunity that will shift underlying attitudes and practices and structural barriers around gender and result in positive substantive gains for women and society?

    Ans: We have seen through numerous examples how the fields of technology and Innovation goes up and beyond gender, it encompasses and embraces all. And it is rather our societal and social belief systems that give these spheres its gendered or segragated approach. Leveraging potential of women along with other genders can create fairly distributed power systems which as a resuly trigger sustainability. And how would it create sustainability - when you have equal represenation, all issues, requirements will be taken into consideration... innovation, technological and scientific endeavors would be dynamic, have longevity and representatiive. One more thing that should be noted here, in this day and age, techonology is not only on the forefront of every socio-economic and politicial endeavor but it the pillar on which all endeavors are made - so if you have equal representation in STI ,... it will lead to greater, fairer representation in other spheres of society  as well.

    Q4. Looking to the future, which resources will become more scarce / more valued, who will control and govern them and what overall value system will underlie resource development and allocation? What does this mean for gender and STI and what are the opportunities and challenges for women in various contexts and in directing and reaping the benefits of STI?

    Ans One straight and simple answer is perhaps natural resources and how we develop and/or allocate our resrouces to keep a check on that will be most crucial. STI's will indeed play a great role to counter this issue. The biggest challenge I see is a fair representation, and another obstacle for that and a challenge is also training and mentoring women in numbers so that they come up to par. All across the world, access to education, profesisonal guidance and mentoring have disparities... so the challenge is to counter this hurdle as well in order to reap the benefits. 

    Q5. How do we dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?

    Ans. Gender senstive education which entails a gender sensitive curricula as well as gender sensitive training of educationists. Gender stereotpyes can also be dismantled through equal representation of women in govt, public private sector policy making, a dialogue between government and civil society in addition to having awareness raising campaigns, talks, forums and so forth.

  • caroline nyakeri
    • What do you see as effective channels in both formal and non-formal environments that let us stay ahead of technology developments or respond quickly to negative (sometimes unanticipated) consequences?

    I see computers, radio, television, mobile phones and demonstration videos as channels to stay abreast with developments and skills acquisition in various fields including agriculture, health and environment. These channels offer access to global technology transfer as they are available in most locations even if shared and easy to use regardless of education level. They are quick and reliable in updating development changes.

    • Is the technology we are developing today building on a biased foundation that will have negative and difficult to “unwind” future outcomes (e.g. AI and bias in algorithms and matching learning) that may exacerbate gender inequality?

    Talks and tests on 3D printing in manufacturing in Kenya have raised both excitement and fears. Excitement due to the possibility of efficient production methods and fears of losing jobs that have traditionally been done manually by especially semi skilled women e.g. making of bags, key chains , mats, soap dishes, lamp shades, toilet paper holders and wallets. These women would need technical training to participate in this highly advanced technology if jobs are to be retained within the new mode. Most are illiterate .If this is effected without this in consideration, the semi skilled women work force will be quickly rendered jobless. Some technologies will need time for best implementation e.g. early uptake through inclusion of the girl child at elementary school as seen on this link:


  • Lubna Dajani

    Dear Participants,

    Thank you for sharing your views, examples and efforts! During the first week we have heard positive examples of technology – ICTs specifically – for women’s empowerment in the following cases:

      • Afghanistan where women are using ICTs to learn, share opinions and form community (Abdul),
      • Efforts to increase women’s participation in tech and economic empowerment through the iHub in Kenya
      • Development of drought resistant agriculture in Kenya (Caroline).
    Others have cited the more general potential of ICTs for economic empowerment (e.g. borderless jobs), reduce unpaid care work, social mobilization, advancing rights otherwise denied to women, bypassing traditional and often non-available channels to women and empowering grass-roots women, questioning of norms, and providing new horizons and perspectives.

    Given the importance clearly placed on ICTs, it is indeed troubling to see, but also a rallying cry to reverse, the growing gap in access and sophistication of use of ICTs by women. (ITU and GSMA have both published data on this and the Web Foundation and the Alliance for the Affordable Internet also both have excellent reports which consider the gender dimension of the Web/Internet.)
    We also have received some excellent insights:

      • There was an observation from Dr. Shrilakshmi Desiraju on the pace of adaptation of women to new technology. This brings up interesting assumptions around how risk-taking or risk averse women are seen as being and even how we define or perceive “risk-taking”.
      • Gloria Bonder talked about how much of gender transformative STI comes down to power relations and distribution of opportunities, resources, etc for women.
      • Robert Leggett suggested that “technology can and should remain subservient to the principle and not become or advance an inhibitor” and that technology can be both “empowering and necessarily subversive” but that counter suppressive narratives must be overcome.
    We look forward to hearing from more of you in the coming days on the questions posed last week, on the contributions made thus far, and also on the following dimensions:
      • What do you see as effective channels in both formal and non-formal environments that let us stay ahead of technology developments or respond quickly to negative (sometimes unanticipated) consequences?
      • Is the technology we are developing today building on a biased foundation that will have negative and difficult to “unwind” future outcomes (e.g. AI and bias in algorithms and matching learning) that may exacerbate gender inequality?

  • Jennifer Breslin
    Q1. In my opinion,  we ashould also be speaking about influence and relevance of STI for women's empowerment. I agree with Gloria that this requires some pretty fundamental rethinking of systems, not just tinkering at the edges with numbers, though I don't discount that having more numbers of women in decision-making positions can make a real difference. Still, there is evidence out there that merely having some women in decision-making positions in very patriarchal systems is not adequate to transform them. If we are talking about issues of relevance then we need to look not just a numbers as the goal but at actual changes in priorities and investments that benefit women and girls to a much greater degree.

    Related, I think that we need to not only look at women leaders and decisionamkers in the STI sectors but also at how women overall are able to exercise influence around STI. This can be through grassroots networks, participatory channels of public comment, etc. In some of the conversations I see at the global level, we are more focused on the former than the latter. In relation to the conversation around community level STI, I think this important to bring into the conversation on inclusion.

  • Jennifer Breslin
    Q3. I find it very interesting that much of the discussion on question 3 has been around ICT and digital technology. There are many other important areas of science, tech and innovation that will have profound impacts on socierty, though to be sure ICTs are extremely influential and foundational to the 4th Industriual Revolution and many societal interactions. Just over the last couple of days for instance, BBC and the Guardian have written about the potential for extreme inequalities as a result of unequal distribution of advanced technologies that are on the horizon, as well as on the implications for gender of reproductive technology developments, specifically artificial wombs. See

    How do we grapple with this? How do we aniticpate and respond to this? To me, this is where futures thinking and scenario planning is critical. As we deal with current challenges and opportunties, we need to be building and adjusting our approaches to also ensure that STI on the horizon is not something that we are just constantly reacting to or playing catch-up around. 

  • claudia rivas

    Q1. Is “inclusion” enough? Does just having greater numbers of women in the STI ecosystem result in the future we want?

    It is not enough, but it is an step, with more women we can create more a awaraness.

    Q3. How might technology break down existing societal and power structures and / or create new ones?  What are the implications for gender and STI and is this a transformative opportunity that will shift underlying attitudes and practices and structural barriers around gender and result in positive substantive gains for women and society?

    Technology is blind-gender, so it will help since the communication goes beyond everything. Now anyone who wants is connected and can learn, women from around the world can show their capabilities and be able to enter to a world that maybe is still difficult in their area.

    Q5. How do we dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?

    I think by promoting it with our family and in our job. For example by making people aware of what STI is and the benefits. I have realized that even now more women can get jobs in STI at least in my country they are not interested even i try hard. I go to schools and they still think is boring. I think the problem is since school and family also. So that is what we can do, try to cultivate science in them so they won't grow up believing is something boring and not for girls.

  • Joanna Robaczewska
    In my view there are two critical elements to women empowerment which are 1) access to information (knowledge) and 2) the freedom to make informed choices about the way they want to live their lives (choosing between different roles, professional and personal and getting support to  balance them in a respectful way).
    STI does a great deal in connecting us to information and unveiling opportunities to learn, share and connect globally but most of the time we do need to act upon them locally and at the micro level, whereas the family and community relationship define our quality of life. This quality of life depends also on the ability and opportunities to contribute to this community. Unfortunately, many contemporary approaches to women empowerment are patronizing and undermine individual choices and contribution by putting value labels on different roles and defining a success by focusing on the position in the hierarchy or the ability to outperform male counterpart.  This also lead us to the point where we look at individual contribution by using performance and output measures instead (what one can do, how much, how fast) instead of recognizing the actual impact on the individuals, community, society and economy which is far more important for sustainable development.
  • Carol Ajie

    Questions and Answers From Carol Ajie:

    Q1. Is “inclusion” enough? Does just having greater numbers of women in the STI ecosystem result in the future we want?

    Answer: Inclusion will remove the major bottle necks because with more women and girls in the STI ecosystem we will begin to perceive women as being able to do what men can do and even better

    Q2. Does bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI offer additional or greater opportunities for creating more gender responsive STI, including in comparison to more top down systems? 

    Answer: Bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI offer additional and greater opportunities because the men and boys seem to be more prominent at the top so with this strategy more women and girls will be involved from the bottom who eventually move up.

    Q3. How might technology break down existing societal and power structures and / or create new ones?  What are the implications for gender and STI and is this a transformative opportunity that will shift underlying attitudes and practices and structural barriers around gender and result in positive substantive gains for women and society?

    Answer: Technology is potent and right now the most powerful tool of communication and engagement hence it has a great potential of breaking down existing societal and power structure plus creating new ones. I give myself as example I contested several elections and lost and would have no voice but for internet technology and that leveraged contributions and relevance at work

    Q4. Looking to the future, which resources will become more scarce / more valued, who will control and govern them and what overall value system will underlie resource development and allocation? What does this mean for gender and STI and what are the opportunities and challenges for women in various contexts and in directing and reaping the benefits of STI?

    Answer: Opportunities abound for women we could reap the benefits of STI as pioneers in our fields and be the voices in our societies.

    Q5. How do we dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?

    Answer: We will dismantle gender stereotypes and bias by keeping focus and not feeding into negativism.



  • Ines Mtioui

    Question 3:

    Social media helped so many women to share and express their point of view and ideas.

    Over the past decade, technology has a huge impact on our lives especially in the Arabic society. Through social media women started discovering what’s going on in the world. It offers them a global connection, where women from different culture can communicate, share their knowledge, inspire each other and educate one another about their culture and religion. I can tell that this connection helped so many women in the Arabic society to free themselves and discover their abilities. It also helped other societies to discover Arabic women, their potentials, skills and their capabilities to be an effective member to our future.

    Internet, technology and social media are weapon of two edges. I think the worst part should be controlled and it shouldn’t affect the best part of it, because nowadays, technology is considered as the only tool for women to fill in the gap of awareness and knowledge about STI.

    • caroline nyakeri

      As a beneficiary of the internet including social media, I agree with you Ines. It gives women a platform from even the remotes part of the world to engage globally using their own voices and real time, speeding information and knowledge transfer.

      Those who try to control it just confirm its power.

    • Carol Ajie
      In filling gender STI gap let's look to overcome the challenges so as to come to the prospects.
    2 of 2 Replies
  • Abdul Basir Sarwari
    In Regard to Q.4: I think that most of new oppertunities, job and carrers will be in the hand of Technology, as human and societies requirese to have more facilitation in their life, job and tasks, human resources will be scarce and technology resources will be increased like the todays robot which can performs many tasks as human is doing this mean that technology will control the system. this condition will also provide oppertunities for women not to suffer from many challengeful tasks.
    I think the STE will be bring more benefit for women and men in the near future.
  • Abdul Basir Sarwari
    Q. 3: Technology create and inrease development, Education, communication and ... among the people in the society. it connect the people from different parts and different prespectives.
    The using of Techology, Media and communication plays an important role in Afghanistan during the last 10 years, women in Afghan society now can comment, give openion and share ideas, knowledge and communication with each other through using technology  mostly social medias and pages in the society where they are not allowed to come out of home without covering their faces or coming to medias to discuss about issues, but by using technology now they are able to study, learn and comment on different social and political issues. (as most of them use another name other their actual name when using social medias).
    The using of Technology bring a positive changes in the development of women in social aspects in the close traditional society.
    • Ines Mtioui
      I totally agree with you! Women in our society only have social media to express themselves even though they don't have all the freedom to use it. It still controlled by the other gender.
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Ines Mtioui

    Question 1:
    We all know that women is the half of our society but this half is totally absent in the field of STI especially in the Arab society. I am as a Tunisian Girl who has ambition to serve our planet with clean and sustainable energy, unfortunately I cannot! Simply because I am only twenty three years old and women! They don’t even allow me to think about it because we made every sector only for men. Inclusion women in STI is one of her rights. In any field she would have a great impact on our future. At least we should give her chance to try as we do to the men. Besides that, women should be a role model for themselves. By inspiring each other and attracting other women to think globally and dream bigger. I think it is not about numbers as about her presence in our daily life.

  • Manisha Kad
    Question 5:

    Dismantling of stereotypes should happen across all areas and all layers of society i.e from home, school, organisational, political and social, from bottom to top leaders.Because everything is interrelated. This can be done through education in case of schools. In case of organization trainings and code of conducts will help. In societies, certain policies or regulation can help. Women and girls also should make efforts to be competitive to reduce the gender gap, as STI is our future may be its job creation, climate change or any other problems. Introducing more women in leadership and decision making at top levels will also help to leverage the process.

  • Robert Leggett
    On Question 5

    In the workplace and at home: Changing the way that we perceive a productive employee from hours put in and administrative tasks to fill time, to the mining of thought and critical thinking to solve the most pressing problems which requires men and women's perspective, helps to make women just as, or more valuable in terms of employability. The workplace, whether private, civil, commerical, non-profit, international etc., has long been exposed to tendencies in men's thinking process and looping women into the fold, only increases the chances of wholistically contributing to society.

    We should see the role of raising children, especially in the early years, as just as critical as any profession. Programs to educate parents on how to groom their children to understand the necessity at an early age of science, so that they feel attached to the mission, would help. Since there are more men currently in STI, this would help them to be more involved in directly raising the children early on and free up time for women to be the breadwinner.

    Using technology to debunk taboos/sterotypes: Issues such as breastfeeding, menstruation, genital mutilation etc. being shared through technology/social networking changes how people perceive these topics for women and that they are not weaknesses or inhibitors to achieving. Also, it educates and conditions with repetition, societies where women are forced to cover (not by choice, as not all are forced), or even worse undergo humiliating or painful treatment....that these are unethical practices, baseless in principle.

    On self-perception: This has been touched on often in webinars, but women leading women, helps inspire women to break through chains that they place on themselves mentally. The inclusion of men, provides another area of encouragement, especially where men's perspectives prevail as dominant. It adds a layer of legitimacy, real or perceived.
    • caroline nyakeri

      In Kenya, our largest mobile service provider Safaricom provides a mobile banking service called MPesa.  M is for Mobile and Pesa means money in Swahili hence it is a “mobile money” service.
      As Mark has put it, mobile phones make women feel independent, empowered, and safe and saves their time spent on commuting.
      Mpesa services include, person to person payments, person to business payments, money transfers (salaries, school fees and benefits), bill payments (including electricity/ water/ club memberships) and a saving and loans facility all on the phone. This technology has largely benefitted and improved the health and agricultural sectors rurally both where women are major players.
      M-PESA has over 25 million users across Africa, Asia, USA and Europe so funding and empowerment is on a global scale.


    • caroline nyakeri
      Well said Robert. No doubt , men have a critical role to play when it comes to creating an enabling environment for women to thrive in STI and in the home/ community settings. Other men are more likely to buy in from their male folk to eliminate existing gender biases.
    • Mark Kaplan
      According to GSMA Of the 3 billion people unconnected, there is an approximate gender gap of 200 million fewer women connected than men. Of the thousands of women interviewed in a report by GSMA across 11 countries, including both mobile phone owners and non-owners:

      - at least 68% in every country reported they feel safer (or would feel safer) with a mobile phone;

      - at least 58% in every country said they felt more (or would feel more) autonomous and independent; and

      - at least 60% of women in 10 out of 11 countries said mobile phone ownership saves (or would save) them money, and 

      - at least 60% of women in every country claimed that a mobile phone helps (or would help) make running errands either more convenient or less expensive #unstereotype

    3 of 3 Replies
  • Veronica Ngum Ndi
    when we talk of inclusion it not just including women but we so think critically how womenwith disabilities are left out.They are the most vulnersable in all dimension and if technology can be favourable for them, they will access health information, communicate easily and gain independence for their own economic empowerment
  • Uzoma Katchy
    In the near future, intellectual  resources may appear scarce since Automation is the next big thing.
    So for women and girls to remain relevant and bridge the knowledge gap, STI  and STEM should be encouraged.And for there to be a meaningful impact and achievement, some strategies should be adopted. 
    Peer Mentoring .
    Capacity Building.
    Already established Skills Market or Market access.
    Enlightenment Campaigns etc.
    • Jennifer Breslin
      I would love to hear more from everyone on what the future of education should look like in the face of predications around automation and the fact that most future jobs haven't been created yet. How do educational systems keep up with unknown or quickly shifting needs? Can we position women and girls to be at the forefront of this new learning and skill development? How?Has anyone seen examples of good informal experiential leanring that builds STI and other 21st century skills and that is targeted to young women? 
    • Mark Kaplan
      Agreed. Public private partnerships need to bridge "on the ground" program requirements, technical product requirements and economic partnership requirements to make these capabilities sustainable.  (these are my personal views)
    • Veronica Ngum Ndi
      I agree with you Uzoma. But women/girls with disabilities should be given first place in all opportunities
    3 of 3 Replies
  • Question 4.

    In the near future job/business opportunities will be in technology. In the field of Data Sciences, Robots and Internet of Things(IoT) thousands of new jobs will be created. Women will not afford to ignore learning Mathematics and ICT. The journey starts now in inspiring our daughters and sisters, mothers and aunts, to embrace Technology, Sciences and Mathematics. Having more women in STEM as men we are sure our future is more secure, strong and prosperous.
  • Q5. How do we dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?

    In developing countries elementary teachers play key role in either inspiring young girls to love Mathematics or hating numbers and sciences in general. I had a very bad experience with Mathematics teachers who used to beat us every morning. I know a quite number children who dropped from school because they would not bear with the punishment of learning Mathematics. Literary we were prisoners in Maths Class. Most teachers are rough to young girls and the have no patience with slow young learners. This makes slow learners (girls) think Mathematics is for men. Consequently, they lose hope. To enable more girls and women love Sciences and Mathematics, elementary teachers need to be retrained to certain standards before handling young learners. The imbalance being experienced in STEM fields, it is artificial since it has been created by ELEMENTARY TEACHERS. Most schools put more emphasis on languages like speaking good English/French since it is noticeable by everyone. Parents get excited when they see young children speak these foreign languages. Speaking is the only prove for parents that their children are taught well. Parents need to go extra mile to find out how good their children are in Mathematics and Sciences. Schools need to incorporate Skills Check for learners so that parents will be able to hold them accountable.
  • Uzoma Katchy
    Community level engagement of women will go a long way in bridging the knowledge gap that exists and  hel.p. improve STI. However, in orderto achieve this, awareness and information about the benefit of SIT to women  should  be disemminated.  LEARNING resources tailored to reach these segment of women can be explored.
    The opportunities in technology  are immense especially in improving and achieving women economic empowerment.  It enables women to bridge any inequality gap that exists  and frees them to utilise their potentials. The Networking opportunities that are available in technology gives them the ability to have a far wider reach than they would have in its absence.
    However  Capacity Building  is key for STI to be achieved.
    • Mark Kaplan
      I believe that digital and financial inclusion plaforms, generally speaking require literacy training conducted by qualified extesnsion services. However, there are common needs across communities and segments that enable digital transformation and standardization. It is a very exciting time! (these are my personal views).
    • Uzoma Katchy
      Precisely Robert.
      Thanking you.
    • Robert Leggett
      I understand from the above that being in the communities, understanding the individual circumstances and constructs is necessary to tailor STI learning most effectively to that population. Is this correct?
    3 of 3 Replies
  • Gloria Bonder
    I am enjoying this  forum although I would like to see more interaction among the participants
    From reading the posts, it is clear to me that despite specificity or our comments  we are discussing basically to fundamental topics: how we conceive power and power relations (be it on gender relations or socioeconomic , and cultural relations in general) and second and related tho the first one which theory of change we are based on or recommend to change gender inequalities and an unfair distribution of opportunities, resources, autonomy  and capacities Planning strategies, the role assigned to ICT in development, and in women´s  wellbeing , the kind of reforms in education we are proposing all of them are based in assumptions on how power relations works which actors are in the field and which interventions supposedly can level the field 
  • Robert Leggett
    As a devil's advocate: A couple risks of the bottom-up approach:

    1) The tendency for there to exist "group think" and for women to follow the crowd, even if against their core principles or values. The lesson here is just because 15 women have an idea of what advances women in general, doesn't mean it is more productive, ethical, sustainable or well thought out as one woman with some creativity.

    2) In the bottom up approach, there are as many ideas, motivations, special interests etc, as there are people. How do we ensure that the message/narrative being transmitted is actually as well vetted and thought out by experts of different backgrounds, as we would like to think? I would submit that the ground up approach, in some recent cases, was a plethora of singular interests piggy backing off of core concerns felt by the majority.

    3) There is the issues of 'time' as a constrainst. The ground-up approach assumes a gradual discreet preparation phase which needs time. The question, is there that much time? Do we really have as much time as we would like to have in order to get more women in the drivers seat of the world's greatest decisions?

    4) Be sure not to confuse purpose, with sport.
    • Mark Kaplan
      A few comments as I agree with what seems to be generally speaking to an illustration of the perpetual pilot syndrome for lack of a better reference. The lack of productivity appears to be due to a development mindset/lack of rigor to product/program versus efficiency applied to use of funds. A start-up mindset applied to would seem to be beneficial.

      Time is an issue and with right enabling environment, things can scale. We have seen a case study where 100 farmers were trained on a mobile service that integrated social networking and content with tools. Through word of mouth over 3 weeks it scaled to over 20,000 adopted. This is a proof of concept but may speak to the scale / impact / talk vs action dilemma inferred above. Lesson, treat people as people vs. subjects in a pilot experiment. Digitally, farmers are consumers too. (these are my personal views).
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Peace Uzoma

    Bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI is critical in creating a more gender responsive STI. The best way to create impact  is to Go to the people: live with them, learn from them, start with what they know, build with what they have”-Lao Tzu

    By doing these you will be able to identify the needs of the women as caroline nyakeri opined and then work with them to proffer solutions to those needs using STI.

    For Instance, women constitutes majority of the population in the rural areas and they handle over 65% of food production in the developing world,-the world’s women 2015 study shows that two-third of the world’s illiterate are women.

     If these women are educated on the potentials of STI, they will become creators of powerful solution in food production, such as improved planting methods, improved crop species, improved processing methods. This will give rise to reduced labour and improved standard of living.  The women will also see the need to send their daughters to school and also encourage them to pursue STEM careers.

  • caroline nyakeri
    Q 5: Teachers and parents heavily influence the molding of young minds and are key to making or breaking lifelong biases and self perceptions. Both need to create conducive learning environments for girls to build their confidence in math and sciences while reducing stereotypes at an early stage right from the home setting. Boys should learn early to view the opposite sex as equals in STI.


    Women in STI should purpose to visit girls’ schools during career talks to convince them that they too can succeed. Oracle academy in Kenya had an IT Students’ Career day at State House Girls High School. In attendance were over 1,500 girl students from 19 high schools. Guest speakers included women who demystified success of women in STI.


    The media should promote more images of successful women in STI to dismantle stereotypes. For many, seeing is believing.

    • I think teachers hold the key. The best of the best teachers only should be allowed to handle young stars!
    1 of 1 Replies
  • caroline nyakeri
    Q 4:  I see highly skilled and innovative labor becoming the scarce and valuable resource. Being digitally savvy will be an advantage as technology grows. Skills that deliver efficiency and cost effectiveness will be high in consideration in resource development and allocation as profitability will always dominate in all sectors.

    With job opportunities shrinking and becoming more competitive due to automation, women need to gain skills for opportunities in STI to ensure inclusion.


    The current status is that fewer women are digitally literate or have access to internet compared to men worldwide.  This already disadvantages women as technology is evolving leaving many inevitably behind. There is a need to include the girl child and young women into ICT programmes from an early age.


    An example is Project iMlango in Kenya that aims to improve the educational outcomes for 25,675 marginalized girls through delivering high speed Internet connectivity to schools, providing tailored online educational content for math, literacy and life skills as well as tuition and support for teachers to use ICT in their teaching.

  • caroline nyakeri
    Q 3: Technology increases research, development, education and access to internet. Internet access particularly offers a global connection, giving women more power to impact their own lives borrowing virtually from best practices. Women actually learn a lot through the internet increasing their knowledge to enhance skills and ascend professional ladders in a cost effective way.

    For instance , through the internet, I learned how to change soil parameters to plant the highly sought , drought resistant nutritious Moringa tree in an area it had never been successfully grown before in Kenya. The looming drought has necessitated innovation.
    Our local agriculture research Institution has previously tried it in vain and was skeptical at my attempt. Through the internet, I realized the need and how to reduce the soil's density. This has been successful and the research institutions indicate interest in my breakthrough.
    Access to internet truly gives power to even grassroots women to solve local problems e.g food security and conservation as seen in this case.

    Through technology, development can be promptly effected without heavy dependence on governments hence bringing power to the grass roots. Women shall pursue solutions to problems they encounter and are passionate about with various technologies becoming available to them.
  • Robert Leggett
    Question 4:

    This furthers part of my answer to question 2, in that there are some truth's that each individual population type isn't ready to hear and therefore educating future generations on their substance, involves a bit of a creativity.

    I will give an example from the U.S. Many parents educated children that they can have everything they want (materially) and that sky is the limit if you work hard. Well, this is "a truth", in that success favors those who are willing to pursue it, but there is also another, more harder to digest truth. That is that if working hard and success, translates into the consumption of more resources and material belongings, it contrasts in the face of scientific truth. There is a limited amount of land, a limited amount of unreplenishable energy resource, limited amount of resources. So, when we pursue policies and rhetoric which we have become accustomed or falsely promised, we really are just playing the tune of a population which is clearly not ready to consume a specific reality.

    Therefore creativity comes in when educating future generations:

    1) that success is indeed "unlimited", but unlimited in the pursuit of happiness as success. The acquisition of wealth and consumption of resources in excess leads to someone's suffering, either ourselves or others.
    2) the fate and legitimacy of our national identity or if you prefer, global identity, is directly tied to a resources being allocated across the human family and all of its self proclaimed divisions. Crisis and famine is no longer local in a mobile and interconnected world. Denial of these truths will quickly erode a people's identity, their safety, and the success of their future generations.
    3) The concept that creating a culture where voluntary sharing is daily happiness, resources in excess can be used to help those in need....isn't liberal hippy thought or communism, it is called love.

    Therefore, I believe the future of many kind in resources, lies in commodities necessary for survival and establishing innovate ways to replenish them in a communal setting.
  • Robert Leggett
    Question 3:

    In implementatian of any project, there are a core set of needs and principles which govern the purpose behind the implementation. In this case, it is advancing human rights for women. These are principles that while may be taken for granted in democratic, developed nation...are nevertheless unattainable in some societies. Usage of mobile devices, social media, encrypted messaging platforms are avenues in which these basic human rights can be disseminated in theory to women cutoff from the rights that women in other societities enjoy. Mobile devices and the flow of information have incredible power to change lives for the better when coordinated and backed by purpose.

    The technology can and should remain subervient to the principle and not become or advance an inhibitor. Lack of connectivity in rural areas or purposeful suppression of ideas that run counter to a national narrative by a government are all inhibitors which the technology should seek to overcome in order to inform women. In this way, techology is both empowering and necessarily subvervise. On the contrary, that which can advance the human rights of women, can also be used the same tactics to disseminate a counter suppressive narrative, which must be overcome.

    Once at risk women have been exposed to ideas that they may have otherwise not been exposed too and action is mobilized, further more detailed planning and technology can be leveraged for other areas such as skills development, economic education and most importantly, a channel to change the world, not reinforce it.
    • Mark Kaplan
      1) Design with the user
      2) Understand the ecosystem
      3) Design for scale
      4) Build for sustainability 
      5) Be data driven
      6) Use open source standards
      7) Reuse and improve
      8) Adress privacy and security
      9) Be collaborative
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Ifeoma Isiogu

    Mentoring young girls and women is a powerful tool for canvassing gender inequality and to upgrade girls and women to STI/STEM.
    When a young girl is equipped with digital literacy, entrepreneurship skill and other technology like 3D printing, she is expected to extend the knowledge to her community, friends and relation.

    At Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) 80% of our YTF Academy students in Nigeria had told their success stories on how they mentor other girls in their communities who are less privileged in using technology, in return those girls love STEM and end up choosing career in STEM.

  • Having more women in STEM means it will change the way women are viewed as a weak sex and the society will change the way it treats them. At the moment.
    Women and girls have not been give equal opportunities in STEM. More need to be done by the government and the society in general in supporting women who are in STEM to inspire more girls and women to take STEM as their life time careers
  • Q5. How do we dismantle gender stereotypes (bias, unconscious bias and self-perceptions) in STI?

    Mentoring programs for young girls at a very tender age will enable them change negative altitude toward science subjects in upper primary school. Teachers and parents need to be in forefront in inspiring and motivating girls to love taking science subjects and Mathematics. Always girls would like to hear good things they can achieve using technology and how it will add value in there daily life.
  • Manisha Kad
    Question 3:

    Technology has huge impact on existing society and power structure. Technology which involves internet, social media networks (FB, Twitter) are helping women and men to share their views and changing their mind set about gender equality. Technology is helping women and men to be more efficient in time management or even in decision making. It will help to reduce gender gap. Especially for women technology is helping to reduce their non-value added work so that they can maintain their work-life balance. Access to digitized platform women and men can learn more to reduce gender inequality. In today’s world growth opportunities is one of the issue which causing insecurities and generating obstacle to achieve gender equality. Science, Technology and Innovation are creating job and growth opportunities for women and men leading to reduce gender bias. In many areas technology is helping women to achieve the tasks in male dominated areas. So along with work on social changes to reduce gender equality we must think wisely how we can use STI to solve the social issues avoiding negative impact.

  • Robert Leggett
    Question 1:

    There are varying qualities of inclusion that I can think of off of the top of my head. A recognition that inclusion is necessary, by industry namesakes across the board is a good start. Without too much cynicism, there is surface inclusion, which is the appearance of inclusion in analytics, social media and social selling campaigns and there is societal fabric altering inclusion which I would like to see more of. This is at the macro-level.

    At the the individual, micro-level, I would like to see more inclusion of women's traits as family leader, community organizer, problem solver. As said before, an emphasis on the introduction of new traits to approach issues, from a person, who's psychology is part made up of the instinct to carry, mold, multi-task, soothe etc. I see little to no value in the suppression of these traits, in order to conform to the rules of the game which has facilitated a cyclical set of events.

    Question 2:

    There is a time for both approaches and there are certainly ethical questions of both. The top down approach assumes that actually the masters tools will dismantle the masters house. That is simply not the case most of the time, and the bottom up approach holds leadership responsible in a form of checks and balances. Women forming partnerships and somewhat "unionizing" creates strength in numbers which can very well hold a person to account peacefully in a democratic society with rule of law and ballot box. For me, the bottom up approach advantages are these:

    1) It provides a counter force to speak truth to power across power structures in society.
    2) It formulates, strategizes and disseminates ideas strategically to organize.
    3) There are certain truth's in the world, especially in developed countries, that people aren't ready to digest in the traditional methods of communication or they aren't able to get effectively communicated to them by their governments or media. These truth's including science, economics, distribution of wealth, human rights, etc. can be seen as incompatible with norms/cliche's of their identity.
    4) It breaks down traditional, man made borders in commerce, sovereignty etc. in order to get messages disseminated that there is another way and that we stand together as human beings.
    5) If provides checks and balances across borders on government by showing the true good in people, rather than having their voice filtered through men with suits.

  • Manisha Kad
    Question No 2:

    Why don’t we use both the approaches?  In case of Innovation top down is always useful. We can start with top down to start with big picture and while breaking in to segment. We use bottom up and community level egangement of women to provide correct data about social and cultural aspects so that we are able to provide sufficient detailing which will not result in failure. Connection between all levels is key for success.

    • caroline nyakeri
      I agree with you Manisha. Top-down system works for complex perhaps global reaching innovations so that controls are put in place to guarantee success, while bottom-up system works at grassroot community level for local solutions. 
    1 of 1 Replies
  • caroline nyakeri
    Q2:The bottom-up and community level engagement system is ideal as it allows for identification of specific biases, needs and cultural expectations of women interested in STI opportunities.

    For example, Netfund Green Innovations Awards promotes and rewards sustainable agriculture and eco friendly innovations in Kenya using bottom-up sytem. This incentive ensures communities creatively participate in local problems solving by adopting products and practises that address their local needs and challenges in the areas of access to clean water, energy, climate change and waste management. One reward category is strictly dedicated to women but does not limit them to it. My Women led organisation, Green Gates Ecofarm was a recepient of this award in 2016.

    In this case a top-down system is also in place too to create favorable conditions for increasing and maintaining the agriculture based innovation opportunities. Here government national guidelines on natural resource management ensures environmental conservation is adhered to for sustainability.

    I see a mix of both systems working best.
  • Manisha Kad

    Question no 1
    What situation currently is we have less number of women in this area. So, first step is the existing women should attract more women in STI.  So, only inclusion is not enough role of women in STI is equally important. Leadership role always lead women to think about big picture so that they can think of creating opportunities for others. This applies to everywhere in organization or as the business women. Along with STEM education there are other skills such as social responsibility, leadership, critical thinking and humanity so that we can use STI better for people or society increasing our horizon. 

  • caroline nyakeri
    Q1:On inclusion, numbers alone are not good enough but is an avenue to start with to tap interest and talent. The important thing is to lay emphasis on skills development/capacity building, mentorship, access to relevant equipment, funding(e.g research and innovative start ups) and a conducive environment for women to fit into the workplace free from being looked down upon or harrased. This ensures they are confident, productive and competitive not just a statistic.
    For instance;
    - In Kenya the government is supplying primary schools with free laptops for early digital literacy for both boys and girls. This is a key empowerment towards including future women in STI. Primary education is free for both boys and girls in Kenya so that both can have an equal start regardless of economic back ground.

    - The Kenya Medical Research Institute held a workshop in rural Kenya to equip aspiring women scientists in public universities with proposal, research ethics and manuscript development skills as well as provide them with mentoring support. This ensures high calibre women scientists are developed not just a gender balancing within STI institutions that can leave women prone to ridicule from peers or them having to give in kind favors to devious lecturers to progress.

    -'Uwezo Fund", a Kenya government initiative literally means "Ability Fund" in Swahili. It seeks to increase access to finances and promote women led local enterprises by providing mentorship opportunities and capacity building programmes. It uses this avenue to incubate enterprises, catalyze innovation and create employment. This model has successfully funded community womens' development with over 5 billion Kshs disbursements.
  • Lubna Dajani

    Dear community on Empowe Women,

    I am thrilled to be participating in this initiative of UN Women, UNESCO and WIPO, the online discussion and to be moderating the question on the impact of technology on achieving gender equality and its potential – or not – to create a more just and equal society overall. Thanks to those that have already contributed and I look forward to an active conversation in the coming two weeks.

    For approaching a few decades, I have been engaged in the frontier issues of technology, as well as closely examined both its promise and threats. I think that given the history of science, technology and innovation (STI) one can argue that it has been a mixed bag for women’s empowerment.  We have seen incredible gains for women especially from technologies like birth control, online citizen journalism and social mobilization where women are able to bypass more restrictive “traditional” and patriarchal channels of participation, to benefits to health from cleaner energy technologies (it is women as water collectors and cooks that suffer the worst health effects from disease and indoor pollution), and economic gains through productive technologies.

    However, there is also a down side with STI also being used to consolidate power, to threaten the environment which can disproportionately impact women, and new forms of violence and harassment have formed online.  

    What is clear is that technology can be a double-edged sword and often there are underlying dynamics of power, priorities, and control that determine in which direction they will go. This observation closely relates to Gloria Bonder’s excellent points on whether “inclusion is enough” and that instead of just counting numbers we need to consider structural and value issues as well, if we are going to succeed in creating gender responsive STI.

    We have been tasked in this conversation to look toward the future and consider the impact technology may have (positive or negative) on gender equality and women’s empowerment; given the current trajectories and the possible future scenarios in societies where technology may be more ubiquitous on the one hand (e.g. access to the internet and connectivity of things) but also potentially more exclusive (e.g. access to genetic engineering). 

    It is interesting to consider if we think if there is something unique in current and on-the-horizon technological developments and implementations that will change this picture of technological tradeoffs. Is there something more transformative happening that may more fundamentally shift issues of gender equality?

    What do you see as the opportunities and threats that STI hold for gender equality? Does this change if we are looking at high/cutting edge STI or local/indigenous knowledge?

    So with that food for thought, I hope to hear your insights.

  • Abdul Basir Sarwari
    In regard to Question #2. I think that the engagement of women in the community level up and down in STI is very important and effective as connecting the different community levels creat more oppertunities and pave the way for improving in balance of the society.
    In my country  Afghanistan the top level community is very less which women can continue study or working, but the down level community which include more the villages and rural parts even their is no elementry school and lack of connection and relation is visible.
    The women living in down level community are always in the thinking of meeting or living in top levels, but due to lack of connection and system in the society it will not happen.
     I think that the connection between the top and down level should be increased by connecting by social medias and other social networks and exchange program, campaigne and visits as today the science and technology plays crucial role in connecting the communties.
  • Bosede Akinbolusere

    According to the SDGs Theme "Leaving No One Behind", it is imperative that we bring all on board STI irrespective of gender or background. The time has gone when girls and women are just beneficiaries of innovations. The time to join the party is now, and not just joining but becoming active participants right from conception, through planning to implementation and monitoring & evaluation.
    Now is the time for women & girls to take their seat at table for them to be seen as well as their voices heard.
    It’s time to make STEM teaching, STEM opportunities become more gender friendly.
    The demographic gain when women & girls are allowed to explore, innovate and unleash their passions in STEM will be so enormous such that the wheels of sustainable development will move at a fast speed for positive change within the shortest time.
    I recently enrolled in a coding class and I was surprised at what I was able to achieve within a very short time and my experience have led to canvassing for @ least coding for beginners for professional women and everyday girls in a mode that they will understand. The benefits to humanity will be so enormous when women & girls will bring on board STEM their natural intuition.

  • Dear All:
    I consider, in part, to include, prepare women in science and technology; However the greater number of participants does not imply that we have a position on the matter.
    While women are considered the weak sex, many of them perform the programming and work in arduous tasks compared to men.
    We are advancing in this task, every day is a step forward, there is a major advance in the empowerment and gender mainstreaming and ICTs and there are many more opportunities for women within the scientific praxis.
  • Peace Uzoma

    Hi All, it’s great to have your smart inputs on this discussion. We have shared our concerns on the need to have more women in STI in order to achieve gender equality in the STI ecosystem.

    Yes, we need to change STEM education. Lets step a way from teaching STI to a more practical approach thereby  creating an enabling environment for girls to see STI in  action. Youth for Technology Foundation uses the Girls in Ict Day celebration to expose girls to future technologies, ICT and connect them to experts in STEM fields.

     What other proactive measures should be put in place to achieve this?


    1 of 1 Replies
  • Diana Rusu
    Dear All, it is great to receive your feedback. Thank you for joining the conversation. For those who are based in New York, we invite you to join the "Innovation: Improving Lives. Women as innovators and beneficiaries of innovation for sustainable development" event, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations, New York with the support of UN Women and the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO)

    Join us - Conference Room 8, UN Headquarters.

    Agenda here.

  • Gloria Bonder
    In November 2016 as a team of the UNESCO Regional Chair on Women, Science and Technology in Latin America coordinated a pilot project on STEAM ( TeachHer) with a gender perspective for teachers and members of Ministries of Education of eight countries in central American. Ann intensive one-week long training followed by an online mentoring was put in place for 90 teachers organized in national teams.
    A Central American Network of educators in STEAM with a gender perspective was formed and several activities are being implemented in those countries.  The program was quite successful and is producing many lessons that will be used for the definition of a sustainable program at the national level.
  • Peace Uzoma

    Mentoring is imperative in achieving the future we want. Girls and young women should be connected to female mentors who will inspire them and also clear every bush of ignorance that may be affecting them.

    In my University days, we had only 11 female engineering students as opposed to over 100 male engineering students, and we had no female lecturers. I remember some of our male colleagues advising us to go and study nursing or education, that engineering is not for girls.

    It was a difficult situation for us and if we had at least one female mentor-someone who studied engineering, it wouldn’t have been so difficult for us, thus mentorship is key.

  • Gloria Bonder
    Many initiatives looking for the inclusion of more  women in STEM are based in the so-called" business case": more women, more diversity, more productivity

     Other plans or campaigns  in offering a " bright future" for girls and young women: better jobs, better salaries, etc 

    Others in promising gender equality in terms of access and sometimes promotion ( power)  in STEM careers and jobs
     Are those the best initiatives we can offer to them?

    Shouldn't we think instead on how to change STEM education and the working place so that it encourages values and competencies such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, knowledge of human rights, social responsibility of STEM, ethics, gendering STEM research and innovation, etc?

  • Gloria Bonder
    Inclusion is not only insufficient but can also become a trap for advancing towards gender equality. There are important dangers in trying to include more women in contexts, that have been historically dominated by patriarchal rules, cultures, and relations. When that happens research proves that women´s options are to assimilate to that culture either as a second class or as newcomers eager to be recognized within existing values and parameters or abandon education careers, jobs, or positions many times living that as their own failure

     Transformational change is difficult and is long and never ending  process, but in my opinion is consubstantial with the aspiration of a more fair, supportive  and happier society 
  • Леди Мурругарра

    Lady  Murrugarra
    Coordinador de  TeleSalud

    Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humbold
    Telephone: 51 993 470712 (Facetime/WhatsApp)
    Follow me on Twitter
    Connect on LinkedIn 
    Read preventiontime stories and columns

  • Bethia Daniel-Thomas
    Hello All! Greets from Saint Lucia. I look forward to being a part of this productive discussion.

    • Carol Ajie
      Hey two female Ministers from Saint Lucia in New York at the CSW61 March 2017 were awesome!
      They shared some useful experiences on empower women such as not listening to negativism and keeping our eyes on the goal
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Abdul Basir Sarwari
    In some of the countries women moslty are busy more in their private life, like cooking, caring and cleaning, but in the professional life there are also some oppertunities but not parallel to men even in their studying faculties, as a real example  just 3 years back in Agriculture faculty of the 3rd biggest university of Afghanistan there was just one female student and around 125 male and studied for 4 years for BA degree, the cause is also lack of oppertunity for women working as agriculturest.
    to keep the balance I thinnk the for the question 1 about inclution it should be started from the very basic levels of studying, working environment with providing oppertunities more for women in the area of ICT.
  • Kim Chandler McDonald


    ESTEAM is a powerhouse that can drive an economy manoeuvring towards an increasingly innovation-and-entrepreneurship centred matrix at local, state, national and international levels. It is the essential evolution of the STEAM education movement which, itself, grew from STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics when Art was added to the mix. I posit that the next, imperative addition to the assemblage, must be Entrepreneurship. It is the ESTEAM matrix (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering Art and Mathematics), which will empower individuals, communities and nations today, and in the short, medium and long term futures.

    Women own one third of the word’s businesses and it’s expected that one billion more women will enter the global workforce in the next decade. That’s nearly the population of India or China - it’s more than triple the population of the United States and forty times that of Australia.

    Frankly, it’s the countries, communities and corporations (of every size) who engage with and empower entrepreneurial women who will be effectively investing in their country’s coffers.

    STEM and entrepreneurial skills are vital to our future workforce and GDP yet disinterest and a lack of gender diversity are hindering attempts to create a more sustainable, resilient, innovative economy. The answer: embracing the evolution of STEM to ESTEAM which, with its increased likelihood of an engaging, collaborative curriculum, brings with it the potential for far greater interest from a much broader group of entrepreneurial, hireable, promoters and proponents - which is an economic essential.

    Mark Zuckerberg garnered a great deal of attention for the [2016] New Year’s resolution he shared with his Facebook followers. In his post he suggested that, instead of telling young girls to date the school ‘nerd’, they should be encouraged to “*be* the nerd in their school so they can be the next successful inventor.

    I suggest we ensure these young girls are equipped with the business/entrepreneurial skills that will enable them to successfully address the challenges inherent in commercialising their own invention!

    [This is edited from a LinkedIn post I shared 1 year ago. If you'd like to read the full post, you can read it here: Full ESTEAM Ahead]

    • Izuchukwu Okafor
      More like STEM, BUT AN UPGRded function like the Arts.
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Ratna Shrestha
    Working women are facing challenges in both private and professional life. In private have to perform  from cooking to caring  and  in professional from secretary to management level. So to compete with men in professional life is very challangeing. If you get sucess in professional life then your private life will be in trouble,  if you want your private life happy then you could not acheive high level position in professional. To balace both women should have desion making power so that one can win all the obstacles and get sucess in life.
    Therfore answering to no 1 question about "Inclusion" should start from home. Women must be involved in decions making from household level. So,I think change in mindset of familiy members will help to promote inclusion and meaningful participation in all sphere.  
    • caroline nyakeri
      This is true and a very delicate balance that women have to navigate through and live with. Male colleagues particularly need to be on the fore front to encourage women at work to realise their potential and ensure a conducive work environment including safety and systems. At work men should be encouraged to view women as human vs female to reduce biases. This will allow women to be empowered nuturers at home giving society stability too. Women are inately multi taskers and can unleash their full potential both at work and at home given the opportunity. 
    1 of 1 Replies
  • Ogbeyalu Okoye
    I believe the answer to number 1 question is balance. Having an equal balance of male and female in the STI ecosystem would result in a better future. By including both male and female we tend to bring balance and equal pay and create a balance in the gender gap.The issue currently is that there fewer females than males in the STI industry and we need to create a par through STEM. STEM education is crucial in closing the gender gap and bringing more female into inclusive growth. women lack in this field. I had the opportunity to interview a female mathematician and computer scientist who has a startup business in  Nigeria, founder of DEALA-TECH she said based on experience in developing countries, a lot of females are discouraged to go into STEM because of the way they are discriminated in the work place , they alway undermine their competence and would rather promote a male than a female. also industries need to play an important role in creating a balance by employing more females and fighting gender discrimination at work. STEM would create a path toward achieving this but industries also have to develop a pattern where females are encouraged to search for work without the fear of rejection based on their gender.
    To me, science, technology and innovations has the power to close the gender gap and promote inclusive economic empwerment without much risk and preasure on natural resources. Through ICT for instance, I have long discover that educated women and the youths who are mostly marginalized in other sectors could be easily accommodated in decent means of livelihoods. They could be trained, mentored and empowered on how to create borderless income and jobs potentials that could enhance their capacity. From my practical experience with the HETAVAD E-SKILLS 4 DIGITAL ENTERPRISES SCHEMES, which I have been conducting for the past 5 years now , I have discovered through this LEARN-WORK-EARN Platform that most women and youths finds it very comfortable and enjoyable taking up this unique and innovative means of empowerment. And this is so because, this approach accord them to work from home, pursue educational careers as well as earn decent income to support their family and contribute to the society. Above all, our offer through this innovative model could be easily replicated for adoption globally. For more detail information, some of part of the training, mentoring and empowerment through this simplified method is found in our book: E-SKILLS 4 DIGITAL ENTERPRENEURSHIP MADE EASY and could be accessed at While the platform and setting could be viewed at For practical information and application with possible scalability on this concept to gender empowerment, please kindly contact me for my available schedules to partner and network on this programs. We also feel strongly to refer you to our other science, technology and innovations made available through our other book: THE A B C 7 1 2 3 OF SKILLS FOR THE SDGs CAMPAIGNS for Sustainable Living towards Gender empowerment. This also could be accessed at Dr. Amos Obi-Innovator HETAVAD SKILLS NETWORKS is available for consultation and networking/partnership through e-mail :; Skype: miniglobal1; Facebook ID-Amos Obi
  • بيع واكسب معنا
     Bias are difficult to change in my education because the support of the male more than the female they have a role
    Limited if exited it faces pressure in
     Family and society
    In terms of innovation this aspect appears in the university stage because of competition and support within the classroom and when graduation does not use most of the women join the routine work kills creativity and others just create a family and get married ... Here disassemble the stereotypical thinking about the role of women needs a lot of awareness and education and attention to change Racist ideas .. Here women defend their most basic rights or needs as if demanding impossible things is not allowed
    I'm Fatima 
    From Libya 
  • Njoki (Jacqueline) Gichinga
    I am recently appointed as the Director of Partnerships and Sales at the iHub , a globally recognized organization that is deeply steeped in the local tech innovation culture. The iHub has been both the main catalyst for regional tech acceleration and a role model for tech hubs across emerging markets. We serve the tech community, by connecting organizations and people, building market relevant solutions and being ahead of the curve of innovation.    
    • 100+ startups can trace their roots to the iHub

    • 1000+ individuals have at some point worked with us

    • 10000+ people subscribed to our mailing list regionally

    • 200000+ followers globally through our social media outreach

    Women in Tech in Kenya

    According to the 2009 census,  women make up approximately half the population in Kenya.  However, these demographics are not similarly reflected in the labour force statistics. Challenges for women are two-fold: unemployment and poor access to education.  In both urban and rural areas of Kenya, women suffer the highest rates of unemployment. This trend can be attributed to the fact that traditionally most communities in Kenya prefer to educate the boy child.  Additionally, women face various structural constraints on their effective participation in economic activities, including unfair customary laws, poor access to information and health care amplified by discrimination and biases in the job market.

    While there are gender disparities in education, there is further gender inequality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, thus limiting access to careers in STEM fields and exacerbating the low numbers of women in tech.  

    A broader conversation is much needed regarding all the possible factors influencing women’s access and participation in STEM education and careers including economic, psychological and social factors.  as they relate to the STEM field.  Globally, it is well known that there is a major gender gap when it comes to women in tech.  Given the challenges and hurdles women have to jump through, one must applaud the current women in tech in Kenya who have nevertheless pursued careers in STEM fields such as technology.  

    The iHub has increasingly strived to be more inclusive and has pledged for gender parity and has demonstrated our commitment with more than 50% female representation in the leadership and 46% in the iHub team. The iHub demonstrates a commitment to the promotion of gender equality and an African-based company with international standards that is striving to develop homegrown solutions for the continent.  

    So I feel this is a story to tell, especially when the industry is dominated by men and our tech community is primarily men. Women in leadership at the iHub is allowing young women to be open to consider careers in technology and have mentors to overcome the challenges. We are working with partners investing in women in tech and they are choosing to partner with us for such initiatives.
  • Linda Mqikela
    Linda Mqikela is the thought leader in her own write and believes in writing and saying what she likes no matter what are the circumstances. Being born in rural areas of South Africa and moved to the urban areas and having experienced both in conjunction with the experience from having studied overseas in which she looks at life in many ways. She is currently working for provincial government and have been involved in various community projects for all her life. She has initiated most community projects such include Aids support group in Mosselbay, supported a high school program for finishing school where she guided learners from disadvantaged homes as education is her passion. She held a Deputy Chairmanship at NGO that cared for destitute and abandoned babies, expanded her knowledge to be a chair of another NGO that also supported vulnerable kids and youth. Currently a Treasurer of the Holy Cross Roman Catholic primary school. Ms Mqikela hold two Masters degrees one of from the University of North London, UK now known as Politec Institute. She acquired all her knowledge from various other sources but most basic from her upbringing in the small town of her birth, Ngcobo in Eastern Cape where she mostly competed with boys in everything and learnt that there was mostly no space for women. She made a pledge from then that she would continue to endeavor to always find opportunities for women. On the margins she started a small business so that she can grow to empower other women in South Africa,Africa and the world at large. She enjoys interacting with other like minded in platforms such as empowerwomen and hoping that an office could in future be open in he country of birth. Thank empowerwomen for affording people like such an opportunity. Contributing to issues of sustainable development within the world is such an a pleasure. Keep up the great work for the world to be a better place for all who leave in it. I thank you for encouraging these discussions 
  • Khaled Menchaoui
  • Dr. Shrilakshmi Desiraju
    Q1. Is “inclusion” enough? Does just having greater numbers of women in the STI ecosystem result in the future we want?

    It is  not the  no that should be criteria  , it is  to identify intitally the  quality .  If we could  identify  in each  country  few  women who could be role models the  impact  would be  more and  more so these  women should be  intrested in growing the  group in their  region and  not just become  poster for this  group . 

     Q.2  Does bottom-up and community level engagement of women in STI offer additional or greater opportunities for creating more gender responsive STI, including in comparison to more top down systems? 

    The bottom up is definately the choiuce but intitally you would require a leader and   a leader with clarity and  clear  directions  , in abscence of that  it is very hard to achieve the  goal as democracy leads to more discussions and  less of goal performance .

    Q3. How might technology break down existing societal and power structures and / or create new ones?  What are the implications for gender and STI and is this a transformative opportunity that will shift underlying attitudes and practices and structural barriers around gender and result in positive substantive gains for women and society?

    Majority of the  Women  by defalut are multitasker and  more of  operational in nature than the decision makers , and therefore at least  in india  52% of women are  in task force but  only 3% are  on the top making decisions . but that being said they will adpt to technology faster than men  
    definately technology will help them to group and as long as they help each other i guess the benefits will be seen  . Digitial marketing anf  similar  social networks which can help  women in business might be the waay through 

  • Ageing Nepal
    Take the case of Nepal. Growth rate of 60+yrs poulation is higher than the population growth rate, mainly because of increased life expectancy and decreasing birth rate. A majority of 60+ population of today is women and more than 90% of them are illiterate. Because, when they were of school going age, there were not as many schools and also girl education was a social taboo. Like any developing coutry, Nepal is getting urbanized fast and the urban life of today is prohibitive for illiterates. These characteristics of population mix and the soco-economic trend is expected to continue for long time to come.
    Education empowers all so it is nice to see that education for woemn or girl child is emphasized, leaving the issues of 60+ women that are illiterate and increasing in nmber. So the question comes: are we doing justice to these women of 60+ age who have almost 20 years of life ahead of them and are left alone to suffer illiteracy in a fast urbanizing society and suffer the socio-economic and health issues at the old age?
    Q1. For us to achieve the world we want, we need the inclusiveness of all developmental infrastructure like political stability, well functioning institutions, an educated workforce, sound research and education infrastructure and linkages between public and private innovation actors. The only answer to societal challenges is to learn how technologies are developed and used for overall development process.
    Applying STI to inclusive and sustainable development involves addressing the basic need of the people, grassroots entrepreneurship development, promoting growth and building STI capabilities.
  • Luiz Bispo
    That is great, exciting and interesting! Thanks! Warm Regards from Brazil.
  • Funmilayo Doherty
    I look forward to the webinar on this most interesting topic
  • Uzoma Katchy
    capaciy building in STEM will greatly help break the knowledge divide and increase STI. Digital Skills will be in great demand in the near future. The ability of individuals to build their competencies in Digital tools will help them remain relevant in the future. 
    • Mark Kaplan
      It is essential to have 21st century skills in the virtual school. Bridging the digital divide starts with education (these are my personal views).
    1 of 1 Replies
72 of 72 comments