UNESCO International Symposium and Policy Forum. Cracking the Code: Girls’ Education in STEM
More female students are in school today than ever before but they do not always have equal opportunities to complete and benefit from an education of their choice. Numerous overlapping factors affect girls’ access to, achievement in, and completion of education. One area of longstanding concern is the low rate of female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies and consequently STEM careers.
STEM are catalytic for the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are important drivers for innovation, proposing new approaches and solutions to tackle existing and emerging challenges to sustainable development, inclusive growth and social wellbeing. STEM careers are considered as ‘the job’ of the future; the European Parliament forecasts around 7 million new STEM jobs by 2025 in Europe alone. To achieve STEM’s potential, both boys and girls, men and women need equal access to STEM education and careers.
To ensure inclusive growth and sustainable development for all, girls and women must be provided with equal opportunities to participate in and benefit from STEM. UNESCO is giving special attention to this issue as part of its overall efforts to promote the empowerment of women and girls through education and as a response to UNESCO Member States’ decision on UNESCO’s role in encouraging girls and women to be leaders in science, technology, engineering, art/design and mathematics. UNESCO is also developing a report in order to map the current status of girls’ education in STEM education and identify the underlying factors that systematically keep girls out of these areas of study, with the aim of facilitating policy dialogue and making evidence-based policy recommendations.