by UNDP Europe and Central Asia


Gender barriers in society

Gender norms in many societies result in girls and women being expected to put home and family ahead of education and career. Cultural and social practices limit career options for women and men. At work women face environments that operate under standards designed by and for men defining the ideal prototype and defining what successful looks like: tough, assertive, dominant, and unemotional. There are implicit workplace standards to which women are expected to adhere, affecting their recruitment and retention. Having children often results in women paying a ‘motherhood tax’ in their jobs. Gender compounds the discrimination women may already face in the workplace.

Transforming gender norms is a complex task that requires a coordinated, ecosystem approach – from changing individual and family attitudes and media's portrayal of girls and women in STEM, to reforms in education and labour market policy. As we witness the impacts of Covid-19, technology and automation on the nature of work and the needs of the work force, we have a unique opportunity to dismantle gender stereotypes in STEM and to advance human rights, inclusive economies and innovation for gender equality.


Share of women in STEM occupations


Bosnia and Herzegovina




North Macedonia





Source: ILOSTATData accessed on December 29, 2020.

Note: Data is currently available in five countries in the region. National statistical offices typically define STEM occupations using categories at 4-digit level. For practical reasons, this experimental data series is based mainly on 2-digit categories of the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO).

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