Gender equality in science: from awareness to transformation

The project aims to increase gender equality in global science, through improved sharing and use of evidence for gender policies and programmes in scientific institutions and organizations at national, regional and international levels.

The persistent under-representation and unequal capacity to exercise agency of women in science is the subject of much academic research, of an ever-growing resource of case studies and advisory reports, and of longstanding debate. It has prompted policy intervention at institutional and political levels within national, regional and international scientific communities. Yet generally effective practice to correct this anomaly remains elusive. The current task must be to ensure that scientists and science systems throughout the world adopt working processes and practices that banish inequitable gender roles and norms, address unequal power dynamics, and promote the status of women in science, in ways that go beyond mere gender awareness in favour of effective, transformative action.

Anticipated Impact

Increased gender equality in global science, through improved sharing and use of evidence for gender policies and programmes in scientific institutions and organizations at national, regional and international levels.

Study on the Inclusion and Participation of Women


GenderInSITE (Gender in Science, Innovation, Technology and Engineering), in collaboration with the International Science Council (ISC) and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) has undertaken surveys on women’s membership and participation in IAP-member and ISC-member academies and unions to understand women’s participation and gender equality in key international science organizations, such as the IAP and ISC, to gather statistics on women’s participation, and to ascertain the existence of policies and structures that are aimed at ensuring the full inclusion of women.

Key Milestones

The academy survey is a follow-up to a previous survey that was conducted in 2016 and hence a key objective is to ascertain the extent to which progress in gender equality has been made and report recommendations have been implemented. Academies are generally recognized as the apex organizations in the science system and so are well placed to play a leadership and gender-transformative role in society.

A survey has been shared with ISC member unions and is currently underway. The scientific unions similarly have the potential to play an important role in leading gender transformation in specific disciplines. The survey is designed to explore the extent to which unions have responded to gender equality imperatives in their leadership and implemented activities that are designed to promote greater participation of women and gender-responsive actions in their respective disciplines.

Next steps

  • A comprehensive analysis of the survey data will be undertaken and the results will be published in the second half of 2020. The report will be openly accessible.
  • A partnership meeting aimed at reviewing the data collected from the surveys, structuring the project and designing future activities will be organized in the second half of 2020 (to be announced). 

Get involved

ISC members are invited to share with the broader membership on the ISC Knowledge Sharing Platform their actions around transformative gender activities, including programmes of inclusion and policies.


Gender Gap in Science Project


Gender equality is intrinsically linked to sustainable development and is vital to not only the development and progression of science, but also to the realization of human rights for all and the accomplishment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Several international science unions started a three-year ISC-funded project on the Gender Gap in Science: A Global Approach to the Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences: How to Measure It, How to Reduce It?

The Project comprised of three main areas of research:

  • a data-backed study on publications,
  • a global survey of scientists, and
  • a database of good practice.

Key Milestones

The project report was published on the occasion of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science. The Report suggested four strategies in order to inspire young women to pursue careers in scientific fields:

  1. Engage families and communities in promoting STEM careers to girls, especially when these careers are contrary to cultural expectations and norms.
  2. Engage girls and women in exploring socio-scientific issues.
  3. Promote social support for women and girls, such as peer networks and mentoring by more experienced STEM researchers or professionals.
  4. Develop Women and girls’ STEM leadership, advocacy and communication skills.

Next steps

The ISC had invited the IAP, GRC, and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), as well as the coordinators of the GenderGap Project to look at possible joint activities in that area. This meeting will be held virtually in the coming months (date tbd).