One of the greatest challenges faced in the effort to promote gender equality in science is the lack of data available on the subject. Although certain institutions, organizations and governments may collect gender-disaggregated data on things like numbers of women enrolled in STEM degree programs, employed as research faculty, or appointed to leadership positions, this data is often incomplete, not consistently collected or published, and not statistically comparable with other organizations or countries. Equally often, it is simply not collected at all. Without the availability of quality data, it is difficult to understand the nuances of such a complex issue, or even to demonstrate that it exists at all.
In order to help address these data gaps, UNESCO recently announced a new initiative, <a href="http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/priority-areas/gender-and-...">STEM and Gender Advancement (SAGA)</a>, which will inventory and analyze gender-disaggregated data relating to STEM, as well as take stock of and evaluate policy instruments that can impact on gender equality in science. GenderInSITE is pleased to have three representatives serving on SAGA's advisory committee: co-chair Shirley Malcom, acting director Alice Abreu, and regional focal point for Latin America and the Caribbean, Gloria Bonder.
SAGA's first advisory committee meeting took place 1-2 September at the offices of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in Montreal. During the <a href="http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/about-us/single-view/news/...">two-day meeting</a>, committee members surveyed the current state of the field, set forth specific targets and objectives for the project, and identified appropriate methodologies for achieving these objectives.
As the SAGA project moves forward, additional meetings as well as pilot surveys in selected countries will provide ongoing feedback and lessons learned to further refine the initiative's approach to implementing its methodologies.