The gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is evident from statistics in higher education. As a result of gender stereotypes and norms, men are the majority of students in STEM fields despite the fact women perform just as well on mathematics and science tests. Only 31 percent** of women students in the Europe and Central Asian region go into STEM-related fields of study at university, especially information and communications technology, a major growth sector. Women who perform well in some STEM subjects in high school tend to enroll in education, humanities and the arts rather than in STEM at university. Similarly, a lack of women professors in STEM faculties serves as a disincentive. Lack of role models, mentors, family support, and teacher encouragement, as well as STEM environments dominated by men, are major obstacles for women.
Girls and women have limited access to quality learning opportunities in STEM subjects which are traditionally taken up by boys and men. Education systems and schools play a main role in shaping girls’ interest in STEM subjects and in providing equal opportunities to access and benefit from quality STEM education. Teachers, curriculum, equipment, pedagogy and the socialization process in school are integral to helping to track girls towards STEM studies and STEM careers. Girls and women who wish to pursue careers in STEM deserve the education and training necessary to enter the growing STEM job market and realize their talent and human potential.
** UNESCO data is available for the following ECIS countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Russian Federation, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan