The Gender and ICT research group of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), a UOC research centre, coordinated on April 19th a round table with international experts, aimed at discussing the key actions to overcome women’s low share in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) areas and occupations.

The lack of participation of women in STEM is a worldwide phenomenon (OECD, 2015). On the other hand, the pattern of gender differences in STEM participation varies widely across different STEM fields (Eccles, 2013; Sáinz & Eccles, 2012). For instance, in Spain during the academic course 2010-2011 while the share of women in medicine, pharmacy, and biological sciences was very high (respectively of 68.61{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}, 70.17{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}, and 63.24{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}), the presence of women was particularly low, in the university degrees of physical science (28{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}), electronics engineering (13{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}), and computer science (15{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}). However, Spanish women accounted for more than 70{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a} of the students enrolled in humanities (Women’s Institute, 2015). Similarly, in countries like Finland and other Nordic countries, there is also a shortage of female students in STEM. For instance, Finnish girls were the second least interested in computer and STEM careers (OECD, 2015).This evidence is striking, given that Finland is the second economy in that ranking of most equal economies (World Economic Forum, 2014). However, Spain is currently 30th in that ranking. This vocational segregation has enormous theoretical and practical implications. As in many OECD countries, jobs in many STEM fields (like engineering) are mainly occupied by men whose jobs are well paid and who are in high demand in the labor market associated with leadership positions (OECD, 2015).

Read the conclusions of this round table in the page of RRI Tools, the initiative of the European Commission on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).


  • Gender and Postsecondary Institutional Choices. Barbara Schneider. Michigan State University (video interview).
  • Why boys do not work at school and girls stay away from STEM: How gendered stereotypes about learning clash with students’ gender identity. Ursula Kessels, Freie Universität of Berlin.
  • The Effect of Mathematics Training on STEM Workforce Outcomes. Chandra Muller, University of Texas (video intreview).
  • Motivation and self-confidence of girls in mathematics. Marta Casanellas Rius, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

Chaired by Milagros Sáinz, director at the Gender & ICT group, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3).

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