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Supporting Indigenous women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Peru


Access to tertiary education is limited for many Indigenous people in Peru (who represent 46% of the country’s population). Despite the Government of Peru’s fellowship program for Indigenous peoples, which aligns with the National Policy for Science and Technology, only 0.5% of university students are Indigenous. Of these, women make up only 32%, and this percentage is even lower in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To increase this number, there is a need for a greater understanding of the experiences of Indigenous women pursuing STEM education.

This project will support the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in generating evidence to help Peru’s National Fellowship and Educational Loan Program (PRONABEC) improve its strategies to increase the access, retention, and graduation of Indigenous women pursuing STEM careers. Specifically, it will assess the extent to which Peru’s fellowship program increases access, permanence, and graduation of Indigenous women in STEM. It will assess the strategies of four universities to increase access, permanence, and graduation of Indigenous women awarded fellowships, and it will identify successful and replicable strategies developed by two Indigenous-led initiatives aiming to provide post-secondary education to Indigenous youth.

Indigenous perspectives will be prominent in the research design and data collection and interpretation. The project will conduct an analysis of official databases and documents, as well as in-depth individual and group interviews. The dissemination of results will include a peer-reviewed publication identifying the best practices to improve Peru’s fellowship program for Indigenous peoples; guidelines for universities to support Indigenous women; and a video highlighting the challenges faced by Indigenous women, the impact of fellowships, and institutional best practices to support Indigenous women in science.

This project was selected for funding as part of IDRC’s call for proposals ”Breaking systemic barriers to women’s participation in science”.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
24 months
IDRC Officer
Alejandra Vargas Garcia
Total Funding
CA$ 226,100.00
Foundations for Innovation
Institution Country
Project Leader
Maria Amalia Pesantes
Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia