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Scientists Gather to Address Participation of Women in Sciences

1 November 2009 783 views No Comment

A group of 44 scholars traveled from 11 countries to meet in Potomac, Maryland, to share knowledge about the status of women worldwide in chemistry, computer science, and mathematics. The meeting was convened by the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST). Lisa Frehill, CPST’s executive director, said the conference represented a new approach to increasing women’s participation: “The meeting brought together international social scientists with natural scientists and program advocates to enable a multidimensional examination of the issues that affect women’s participation in these fields.”

Small working teams comprised of social and physical scientists examined programs that increased the number of women in traditionally male-dominated fields in various countries. Participants shared their experiences and best practices for developing programs to expand women’s roles and create lasting change in the foundational scientific fields of chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and statistics.

According to Shirley Malcom, a member of the project organizing committee and head of education and human resources at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “An exciting part of this conference was the unprecedented opportunity to look across the experiences of different fields and different country examples to learn from each other—to explore how much of the status of women is endemic to the disciplines and what emerges from the opportunity structures that are made available.”

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the new network of scholars intends to publish an edited volume in 2011 on the intersection of sex and race/ethnicity and science careers in chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and statistics. In addition to the planned book, this project—steered by CPST—will develop a catalog of research-driven strategies and implementation guidelines to increase women’s representation and advancement in these disciplines.

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