Arab women in science & Technology: The information society, greater opportunities for Arab Women Presented by: Sana GHENIMA TUNISIA AWO, university of Cambridge, September 2005 Contents 1. Introduction 2. Arab women: statistics 3. Involving Arab women in science and technology 4. The ICT challenges 5. Information society and gender caucus 6. Conclusion INTRODUCTION A thousand years ago, the Arab World made remarkable contributions to science. Arabs introduced new methods of experiment, observation, and measurement. Some examples of those inventions: Al-Khwarizmi invented algebra and the word algorithm is derived from his name; Ibn al-Haytham wrote the laws of the reflection and refraction of light and expounded the principles of inertia Actual situation Yet today, the number of original research papers published by scientists in Arabic countries is too small compared to the number published by scientists in Europe and the USA. It is to be hoped that this trend is set to change, with many Arabic countries opening new universities and introducing a variety of educational and training programs to improve their capabilities in science and technology. But even with these developments, there is still disparity between Arabic men and women when it comes to an education in science and technology subjects. Gender descrimination In many Arabic countries, gender-based discrimination, coupled with social and cultural barriers, limits access and participation of women in higher education. Some people attribute these barriers to the teachings of Islam, but this is false as we saw yesterday. Science & technology education Science education in most Arabic countries begins between 6 and 7 years of age and is taught in all countries to both boys and girls until the age of 15. The major science disciplines are then studied separately in the last 3 or 4 years of high school education. Girls are then less enrolled in high school science curricula because the existing education structure encourages girls to study more arts and humanities. Science & technology education There are various reasons for this related to gender stereotyping, misleading perceptions that: science and technology are subjects more suitable for boys the failure of curricula to relate science and technology to the everyday life of women. There is also self-inhibition and crystal barriers inside girls that affects: Number of young women entering university to study science and technology subjects, Employment involvement that inhibit women to introduce their own values and visions into a working world dominated by men. Cultural disparities Arabic countries vary greatly in their culture, traditions, and social systems, and there is a wide range of attitudes toward educating women at the university level. Although women in many Arabic countries have the right to a university education, those in more traditional rural areas often do not have this chance, whether for social, economic, or family reasons. Gross enrolment ratios in tertiary education in selected Arab countries (1998-2001) Note: a) Data for Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar and Saudi Arabia pertain to the year 2001/2002. Data for Tunisia pertain to the year 2000/2001. Data for Comoros and Yemen pertain to the year 1999/2000. Data for Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Syrian Arab Republic, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates pertain to Source: UNESCO Institute for 1998/1999. Statistics (UIS) databases Scientific university studies Percent female in SC Courses 1990-1991 in the Arab World 80 70 60 50 40 Percent female 30 20 10 0 Le da n S o n ia Pa no n i U. in A l ia Jo q o or a bia a Dj n Ba en Tu a Ye n i A ar t r ia e it ut Ku . yp E Ira da ri ali M o cc a wa tin y a nis t ibo ge Lib A. Sy m Om Qa a ra hr Eg r m ba Su les r it au M ud Sa Source: UNESCO, The Higher Education System in the Arab States (1993). BAHREIN Gender indicators BAHREIN GENDER INDICATORS 2000-2001 90 80 70 60 50 Women 40 Men 30 20 10 0 unspecified) Science Health and Education Engineering law, social humanities Business, (agriculture science welfare Arts & Others and Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System 20 40 60 80 100 120 0 Legislators, senior officials and business managers Professionals Services workers and shop and market workers Skilled agricultural and fishery workers Crafts and related workers/supervisor s, food, industrial, Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System chemical industry workers BAHREIN Employed population by Occupational group (%) (1991) Men Women Gender Employment indicators SAUDIA Arabia Saudia Arabia Gender Indicators 1997-1998 120 100 80 Women 60 Men 40 20 0 Education Arts and Business, Science Engineering Health and Others humanities law, social welfare (agriculture science and unspecified) Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System OMAN OMAN University Fields of study (%) 2000-2001 100 90 80 70 60 Women 50 40 Men 30 20 10 0 Arts and Business, Science Engineering Health and Others humanities law, social welfare (agriculture science and unspecified) Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 0 Legislators, senior officials and business managers Professionals Services workers and shop and market workers OMAN Skilled agricultural and fishery workers Crafts and related workers/supervisor Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System s, food, industrial, OMAN Active population by occupational group (%) 2000 chemical industry workers Men Women JORDAN Indicators Jordon Women Studies 2000-2001 90 80 70 60 50 Women 40 Men 30 20 10 0 Science Health and Education Agriculture Engineering law, social humanities Business, science welfare Arts & Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System 20 40 60 80 100 120 0 Legislators, senior officials and business managers Professionals Services workers and shop and market workers Skilled agricultural and fishery workers JORDAN Crafts and related workers/supervisor s, food, industrial, chemical industry workers Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System JORDAN Employed Population by Occupational group (%) 2002 Men Women LEBANON LEBANON Gender Indicators 2000-2001 100 90 80 70 60 Women 50 40 Men 30 20 10 0 Education Arts and Business, law, Science Engineering Health and Others humanities social science welfare (agriculture, services and unspecified) Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 0 Legislators, senior officials and business managers Professionals Services workers and shop and market workers Skilled agricultural and fishery workers LEBANON Crafts and related workers/supervisor Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System s, food, industrial, chemical industry workers LEBANON Employed population by Occupational group (%) 1997 Men Women 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Education Arts & humanities Business, law, social science Science Engineering EGYPT Health and EGYPT Gender Indicators 1998-1999 welfare Others Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System (agriculture and unspecified) Men Women 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 0 Legislators, senior officials and business managers Professionals Services workers and shop and market workers Skilled agricultural and fishery EGYPT workers Crafts and related workers/supervisor Source: ESCWA Social Statistics Information System s, food, industrial, chemical industry EGYPT Employed population by occupational group (%) 1998 workers Men Women Women involved in Sc & Tech In certain disciplines, such as public health at The Lebanese University, and pharmacy in Syrian universities, there are more female than male undergraduate students. Women tend preferentially to enroll in the life sciences and chemistry, with far fewer studying physics, mathematics, and engineering. Women involved in Sc & Tech This seems to be more the result of female students choosing these subjects than active discrimination by the education system. This trend is also seen among U.S. and European female students. For example, in the EU, women constitute more women undergraduates of natural science than of mathematics or computer and engineering undergraduates. Cultures are changing! Recently, there has been a noticeable shift in the type of scientific disciplines chosen by Arab women, with more female students selecting courses in engineering, physics, mathematics or computer sciences. That examples were exposed in the figures I showed Bu as we see this positive trend is here but it does not necessarily mean that greater career opportunities await women graduating in science subjects. Some EGYPTIAN indicators In Egypt, a survey by the Supreme Council of Universities for 1995-96 reports that: in disciplines such as pharmacy and dentistry, more than 40% of the faculty are women; in the sciences, 25% of the faculty are women, but this decreases to less than 10% in departments of engineering and technology. % Female Faculty members in EGYPT (1995-1996) 100 90 80 70 60 Faculty Women 50 40 Faculty Men 30 20 10 0 Medicine Agriculture Engineering Pharmacy Dentistry Sciences Veterinary technology medicine and Once again, these statistics are very similar to those for U.S. universities or Europeen ones. So it seems to be a general gender problem. Influent factors There are a number of socio-cultural factors that limit career advancement opportunities in science and technology for Arab women. Women are raised and educated in a male- dominated society with very traditional attitudes and constraints. These vary greatly not only from one Arab country to the next, but also between, for example, urban and rural areas of the same country. Other Influent factors Other factors, such as the challenges of combining responsibilities for a household and family with a professional career. In addition, it is extremely difficult for a woman to re-enter the scientific workforce once she has put her career on hold to raise and educate children for many years. Professional progress for women Despite all the constraints and obstacles in Arabic countries, women scientists have achieved considerable professional progress within a short period of time. Although there is an increasing pool of highly qualified women scientists in some Arabic countries, few women in universities and research institutes are presidents, directors of institutes, or heads of divisions or laboratories. Professional progress for women Very few women scientists are involved in the political life of their countries, although those who are involved have proved to be strong advocates for science and technological development. It is important that more Arab women scientists are encouraged to enter politics where their voices will be heard. Involvement in International Organizatio A few female scientists from Arabic countries serve on national and international committees where they have the opportunity to promote science and technology at both the national and global level. Some enhancing initiatives are noticed every day Arab network for women in scienc A network for women researchers was launched this Year (February 2005 ) in Salmania, Bahrain, to promote gender equality in scientific programmes and institutions in the Arab world. the network would be very important in promoting Arab women's access to careers in science and technology, and in correcting the gender imbalance in science that is present to varying degrees in Arab countries. International Science awards • Pr. Zohra Ben Lakhdar Laureate 2005 • Professor of Physics Laboratory of Atomic-Molecular Spectroscopy and Applications Department of Physics Faculty of Sciences University of Tunis El Manar Tunisia The 7 th edition of the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO FOR "For her experiments and models on WOMEN IN SCIENCE infrared spectroscopy and its (March 2005) applications to pollution, detection and medicine." HER Advice… … to the would-be female physicist Professor Ben Lakhdar's advice reflects her struggles and the difficulties she has had to overcome. "Be aware of the importance of culture; be open-minded as a scientist and as a person. Seek independence. Understand how important it is to be a responsible citizen. And be optimistic: more and more women are becoming involved in the sciences, especially biology. Women are now more independent. Women's careers are becoming more important and more highly valued by society. The average age of marriage is now higher: 27 compared to 15 when I was that age. Be of good heart and be confident." So what is the main idea? In the words of Kofi Annan, as he launched a U.N. global initiative to educate girls, "Let us prove that a society which empowers its women is a society sure to succeed." The Information society Information and communication technology (ICT) is transforming the global economy and creating new network that stretch over continents and cultures. However, there remain noticeable disparities as to the extend in which access and skills are available. The benefits of knowledge and technology are not available to the large majority of the world’s population. Not only do these differences affect developing nations and disadvantaged communities, but within societies there are also significant disparities. Digital Divide Developing countries, in failing to respond to the transformation that the development of ICTs has produced, will be severely burdened when they participate in the global economy. There are unequal power relations in our societies that contribute to differential access, participation and treatment for men and women vis-à-vis access to, and control of ICTs. GENDER Digital Divide Women find themselves in most cases, not only excluded from equal social and economic opportunities in general, but also in terms of the benefits offered by ICTs. Without women’s participation in decision- making in all spheres of life and at all levels of society, poverty will not be eradicated, nor will fully democratic societies be created. Limited access to ICT for women also has the effect of reducing countries’ competitiveness in the global market. IT Can Take You Anywhere If you study technology subjects it does not automatically mean you are headed for a geeky job in a back room or laboratory. Technology is now part of every field of activity and mainly in business or industry. It can literally take you anywhere from concrete things like e-Learning or e- commerce to Virtual reality with 3D effects in movies. IT: A development mean Definitely, IT gives us a lot of things for women or for men, regardless of gender. The new technology has given us a new option, but still it is a tool. As long as we learn how to use this technology, this is enabling all people, including women, to participate in business and other social activities as well. But technology does not change everything, and we need to revisit obstacles for women. IT: A development mean To support our emerging economy in Arabic world, we need to reactivate our resources more effectively. Nowadays women are invited to be more active in business, but we need to look carefully into what the Arab community has done for women. We need certainly to develop more support systems for women in their communities, as men tend to have "automatic" expectations that women take care of family matters such as taking care of children. Unless we develop such support systems in any country, opportunities for women will remain much less than those for man no matter how hard women work. A concrete example Tunisia established since 1956 a Personal Status Code that redeemed the place of the Tunisian woman in the family & in society. In 1987, a new Era of deep constitutional, political, economic and social reforms were engaged in favor of Women. Women are provided with specific mechanisms aimed to consolidate their achievements and promoting their integration as a full partner into dynamics of development. Some indicators will give us more details Tunisian gender indicators Regarding 2004-2005 official statistics in Tunisia, women represent: 27% of the active population. More than 10.000 women head of offices but mainly in classic economic branch. 57% of students in universities 33% of students in scientific branch 49% of students in ICT field Women represent 22,17% of the decision makers in the public sector. women represent 15% of the government: 2 Ministers, 5 secretaries of state and 23% of the Parliament. The Key of Success How to ensure women involvement everywhere even in science & technology, in our countries? To continue the development of female human resources mainly Education at the 3 required levels. To develop women’s empowerment and to promote their opportunities for integration into the economic activities. To reinforce the role of women in civil and political life and especially as a decision maker. To reinforce the principle of equity in the legislation But even with all these factors, we need essentially a very strong political will to ensure equity and partnership between men and women at all levels. My personal opinion Because of the nature of my job, I often come and work with many European or American nationals, both men and women, and actually I don't feel that there are disadvantages for me as being an Arab woman to conduct business anywhere. Some difficulties I experience here, as I experience in some other countries, are the language, stringent regulations, etc., but those are nothing to do with being a woman. My personal opinion If you as a woman want to be successful, you have to possess all the elements for success and you have to well prepare yourself, just like any successful man. What are the key factors for success? You have to have the right attitude, skills, experience, education, self- confidence, stamina, commitment, etc., and at the same time you have to be in the right place at the right time to grab the opportunities. Over my fourteen year's career life, I have never felt disadvantaged by being a woman especially because I born with great gender achievements in my country. Sometimes I actually feel that I have some advantages of being a woman. Some ICT advantages For women, the advantages offered by ICT are appreciated since they allow, for all people, but especially for them: More freedom regarding work timing More mobility thanks to the e-work solutions More self confidence and fulfilling their potential thanks to intellectual effort that gives same chance for both man and women. Continuous training and improvement with e-learning solutions taking in account their specific familial constraint. In the field of entrepreneurship there are enormous opportunities for women. New rules for the 21st century Econom The Internet and other advances in information technology have dramatically changed the playing field for women. It has brought down barriers that kept women out of the work force by providing opportunities to telecommute and work from home. It has also made it easier for women to start up businesses with very little capital and only a handful of employees. The rules of the new economy also call for a different type of leadership, one that is based on team building and a flatter organizational chart. That will open up more possibilities for women and men to work on an equal and level playing field. More new Opportunities We are at the beginning of potentially, enormously interesting new era. We are entering this new phase, where we can all become more international, more global, etc. without losing specificity and rooteness in our countries. These new technologies open up a field, where we can connect to each other as organizations, as entities, as projects across the world. More new Opportunities Information technologies give opportunities to women to enter spaces, political, economic, cultural spaces, etc., where before we were more excluded or had limited options. There are enormous possibilities, but it will take initiative. It will take action. It is not going to fall from the sky. It is much more than simply knowing how to use the hardware. There is an intervening set of cultures, economic cultures, political cultures, etc., that need to be developed and within which these technologies can really enable us. WSIS & Gender Caucus Strenuous efforts will be needed to capitalize on the opportunities offered by the World Summit on Information Societies (WSIS) to bridge the gender divide which is already apparent within the emerging information society. To achieve this, we must foster the broadest possible participation of decision-makers, professional communities, and representatives of civil society, bilateral and multilateral partners, and the private sector. WSIS & Gender Caucus Together all will set out: to discuss ongoing initiatives on gender and ICT to raise awareness on gender-related barriers to ICT access; to include women as leaders and decision-makers; to facilitate better understanding of the needs and directions within the framework of gender and ICT, to render assistance, to support local solutions and content; and lastly also to take forward the commitments that were made at previous UN conferences and summits. Conclusion So I just want to finish on this positive note and to tell to ALL WOMEN OF THE WORLD: Welcome to Tunisia 16-18 November 2005 to take part to the WSIS and to build the future together. Thank you.
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