Need to remove gender disparity in science

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Despite many good intentions and initiatives taken by the decision makers towards popularizing higher education in Pakistan, gender inequality is still rife in science. Although there are more female than male undergraduate and graduate students, there are relatively few female full professors and scientists. The present state of quantitative knowledge of gender disparities in science has been shaped primarily by anecdotal reports and studies that are highly localized and monodisciplinary. These studies also take little account of the rise in collaborative research and other changes in scholarly practices. Effective policy cannot be built on such foundations as these factors hold no ground any more. Unfortunately it is a fact that gender biases persist in every country on one way or the other. But initiatives are vigorously being taken to narrow these gaps as governments in these states realize that effective contribution from both the genders is equally important for national progress especially in science sector. It has widely been witnessed that specialties dominated by women include nursing; midwifery; speech, language and hearing; education; social work and librarianship while male-dominated disciplines include military sciences, engineering, robotics, aeronautics and astronautics, high-energy physics, mathematics, computer science, philosophy and economics. Although disciplines from the social sciences show a larger proportion of female authors, the humanities are still heavily dominated by men. Unfortunately, behind this global imbalance lie local and historical forces that subtly contribute to the systemic inequalities that hinder womens access to and progress in science. Latest studies suggest as collaboration is one of the main drivers of research output and scientific impact, programmes fostering international collaboration for female researchers might help to level the playing field. Social imbalances, values as well as taboos play a dominating role in persistence of the gender biases. It needs no argument that higher quality education particularly in science fields provides a stronger foundation to ensure stronger future generations. Any realistic policy to enhance womens participation in the scientific workforce must take into account the variety of social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which students learn science and scientific work is performed. It is a proven fact that there is no dearth of talent of female population in the country. The only point is to just provide them a conducive environment where they could further polish their abilities. Our decision makers need to carefully identify the micro-mechanisms that contribute to reproducing the past order as we as a nation cant afford to neglect the intellectual contributions of half of its population.


Published in: Volume 07 Issue 09

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