APEC Women In STEM meet in Peru

Representatives from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies recently took part in the ‘2016 APEC Women in STEM Forum’ to discuss meaningful participation of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Professor Jane Latimer, Principal Research Fellow and a member of the Gender Equity Committee at The George Institute for Global Health, was invited to address the United States led forum about the importance of retaining and advancing the careers of female researchers and university women in STEM.

“In Australia more than half of PhD students and early career researchers in STEM disciplines are women, yet women comprise only 17% of senior scientists in universities and research institutes,” said Professor Latimer.

“This loss of female talent is of great concern.”

“Recently APEC has identified that without the meaningful participation of women in STEM, our ability to innovate and develop new solutions to the challenges of the future will be seriously hampered. We will lack the experiences and insights that women bring. More women in science makes for better science.”

“STEM professions offer many rewards. In most economies there are abundant job opportunities and comparatively higher salaries in the STEM field. These issues are fundamental to economically empowering women. The STEM fields are key to economic growth and this is an important reason for all of us to ensure that women in STEM grow and thrive.”

The forum discussed a framework for the promotion of Women in STEM with APEC economies sharing experiences of programs that had delivered change. A number of recommendations for APEC wide consideration were agreed. The audience comprised public sector representatives from the 21 APEC economies, private sector companies and NGOs, and some academia.

While addressing the forum, Professor Latimer also discussed the Australian government recently announced national initiatives that can help the advancement of women in STEM.

“The launch of the ‘Science in Australia Gender Equity initiative’ (SAGE) and the ‘Male Champions of Change program’ are important steps for Australia. These initiatives will identify and target the systems that hinder the recruitment, retention and promotion of women within the STEM fields” said Professor Latimer.

The George Institute is excited to be part of the SAGE initiative and over the next 2 years will examine the opportunities and challenges for women within their organisation and develop an action plan to address this.