Gender in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (GIST or Gender in STEM) is a three-year, CAD7.3 million IDRC investment to advance gender analysis and women’s leadership in STEM fields in the Global South.
GIST funds researchers in the Global South and increases localized evidence on the key factors that constrain or support women scientists. The initiative also identifies innovative approaches to strengthen the measures of institutions of higher-education and others to be more inclusive of women and gender analysis in STEM.
At IDRC, we believe that inclusivity contributes to innovation. We support a more inclusive approach to science, technology and innovation — one that not only integrates women as scientists and users of science, but that recognizes gender analysis as integral to high-quality research and innovation.
Women represent only 30% of the world’s researchers, with even less representation in science leadership positions. In 2015, the Interacademy Partnership published the first comprehensive survey of science academies in its global network. Across the 69 national science academies for which data was available, women made up 10% or less of members in almost half of the countries.
Although the systemic barriers to the participation of women scientists is increasingly being studied, such data and case studies have historically been based on countries in the Global North.
The initiative and our approach
IDRC funded the Breaking Barriers projects in 2020 to address this knowledge gap. The cohort of 10 studies analyzed trends of gendered participation in Southern science systems and the embedded systemic and systematic inequities that prevent women from advancing in a range of fields and sectors in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. These studies generated evidence on the unique obstacles facing women and other marginalized groups in STEM in low-income countries.
Building on this pilot initiative, in 2021 funding was expanded for GIST.
GIST aims to:
Increase understanding of the barriers that prevent women from progressing in STEM fields
Provide evidence on which strategies are most effective to break down those barriers in low- and middle-income countries
Improve women’s leadership in science
Integrate gender analysis as a standard component of scientific research
By providing evidence on what works and grounded in the realities of women in low- and middle-income countries, we can create more equitable science systems that improve the lives of all.