The first phase of the recently concluded Renewable Energy and Climate Science: Metrology and Technology Challenges in the Americas initiative under ECPA, made great strides to strengthen gender diversity. Nevertheless, there is considerable potential to bolster gender mainstreaming, in a groundbreaking effort to contribute to a greater participation of women in sciences and gender equality in the region.
According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women have made tremendous progress in the professional and academic fields over the past 50 years. This progress was achieved even in areas traditionally dominated by males, such as business, law and medicine. However, women remain significantly underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, particularly in Engineering and Technology. As women continue to make strides in fields like law and medicine, the gap in the tech industry has many wondering exactly what the culprit is. Many professionals noted the difference could start with a lack of female role models in STEM fields.
Participation of women in the OAS-led Metrology and Technology Challenges in the Americas initiative was calculated at 23 percent between 2013 and 2016, the project implementation period. During the initial phase of the project, a total of 136 women from a group of 589 public officials were trained in measurement areas identified as priority for the region. These areas were: GHG measurements, energy efficiency in buildings and labeling for renewable energy technology. Through its capacity building activities, the initiative supported the promotion of gender equality, diversity and inclusion, particularly in developing the skills of female professionals in the field of climate science.
As the second project phase is designed, gender mainstreaming, lessons learned and best practices will be taken into consideration to build on those efforts and continue engaging women in climate science, sustainable energy and other technical disciplines associated with STEM.
Magdalena Navarro, a scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology-NIST, OAS’ technical counterpart in the implementation of this project, is a champion of gender mainstreaming in applied sciences, particularly rooting for more Hispanic women in traditionally male-dominated fields of study.
“It is particularly interesting to see how women participation is increasing in STEM fields in Latin American countries. We even see women as Heads of metrology institutes, and this is good news. Of course more needs to be done to train women in Physics, Metrology, Engineering and Technology areas, which are predominantly male-dominated. They need to stay in the STEM areas throughout their entire careers in order to achieve career status and then move into management”.
OAS and NIST will continue to encourage the exchange of experiences in a gender-diverse pool of partners dedicated to the advancement of climate science and emerging technology standards and measurements, serving as a point of reference for other initiatives integrating the broader ECPA umbrella.