The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES), and the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) jointly hosted a virtual conference on “Women in STEM in Time of the Pandemic – Facing Challenges, Finding Resilience.”, as part of the celebrations of International Women’s Day, 8th March 2021.
The conference highlighted the challenges and opportunities for women in STEM as a result of the pandemic. It showed how COVID-19 has affected gender equality and women’s empowerment in both positive and negative ways.
Separate sessions were held with speakers from different regions of the world, on COVID-19 and women in STEM – exploring challenges and opportunities in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, North America, Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Africa.
WFEO Immediate Past President Dr Marlene Kanga was a panellist for the Asia Pacific region and spoke on a number of topics including:
- How COVID-19 has affected women in STEM in their workplace and measures taken to overcome the challenges faced
- The impact of the closure of schools and nurseries on women’s work, especially if working remotely
- The impact of COVID-19 on women’s STEM research or projects
- Missed opportunities in working in STEM because of remote working
- Additional learning opportunities for women to learn more about STEM during lockdown through online learning
- Impacts of the pandemic by slowing women’s skills/capacity building in STEM and possible future effect on their careers in the future
- Innovative implementations and guidance that has been offered in response to the pandemic
- Benefits of diversity in STEM and barriers to a better gender balance in technology especially brought by the pandemic
- How leaders are rethinking their approach to support inclusivity and foster female talent in STEM
- How leaders can ensure that women are offered positions in technology once they have the skills.
The conference was a unique platform for leaders and changemakers from diverse backgrounds – women and men, senior and youth, diverse nationalities – in STEM who came together to share their experiences and perspectives on the pandemic and its impact on women working in STEM, to help shape the future of this critical field.
A recording of the event is available in the GEDC webinar page.
Screenshot of panel discussion on COVID-19 and women in STEM – with delegates from Asia and the Pacific.
Moderator Dr Soma Chakrabarti, Vice President IFEES at bottom left, Panellist Dr Marlene Kanga, Immediate Past president WFEO, bottom right.
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