News archive - [Document Announcement] Mapping of Gender-Related Policies, Programmes and Mechanisms on Gender Disparity in STEM in Western Balkans

The objective of this study is to identify policies related to gender disparity in STEM at the level of each Western Balkan economy and provide a regional overview of existing mechanisms and initiatives, thus providing recommendations for regional action in the area of STEM.

Demand for STEM experts and associate professionals is expected to grow, although women’s involvement in STEM studies, in particular in engineering, remains low in the Western Balkans. The status of women in STEM is difficult to assess across the region as the sex disaggregated data per field of study is not available. Gender stereotypes in the labour market are dominant. Considering low labour market activity rates of women, the gender gap in choice of jobs and the gender pay gap observed in the Gender Equality Index depict the largest cleavage between women and man in earnings and income, risking women’s economic vulnerability. Hence, the empowerment of women in the labour market is one of the imperatives for greater equality between men and women. Supporting, empowering and promoting women in STEM will contribute to economic development of the region and greater equality between men and women.

There are three key takeaways from the analysis. Firstly, the analysis of policy and legal frameworks shows that all economies have very well-developed gender equality policy, almost fully aligned with the EU directives. In some economies the education policy is gendered, but all lack focus on STEM and therefore promotion of women in STEM is missing entirely.

Secondly, the existing gender mechanisms are not used as a basis for specific actions and interventions for achieving gender equality in STEM. None of the initiatives with civil society and business in STEM are coordinated. Very few STEM initiatives are already engendered and are specifically promoting women in STEM. However, there is one focused on breaking stereotypes and promoting the benefits of pursuing STEM education for girls as for boys and providing support in absence of capacity of the educational institutions for career guidance free of gender stereotypes.

Thirdly, European integration process has provided a new impetus for reforming the field of science and research, primarily through smart specialisation and innovation, setting the basis for development of new institutional framework for science, technology and innovation development. Hence, these processes are nascent, in some economies they are anchored in the long-term development plans, while in other are reactionist and rapidly responding to European Union’s demands. What is missing is mainstreaming of gender equality in this agenda.

In light of this, the study recommends to support policy reform where STEM will be specifically targeted and analysed, coupled with continuous monitoring and evaluation from gender perspective to address disparity between women and men in STEM. Such best practices are observed in Serbia, where science and technology policy is gender mainstreamed and innovation funding is monitored from gender perspective, and in North Macedonia, where the Innovation and technology fund supports specifically women owned/led innovative businesses.

Furthermore, it is recommended to support gender mainstreaming of good practices of relevant CSOs, academia and business initiatives for STEM education and increase their gender awareness. One of the best practices the study has identified in this regard is the Millennium Foundation of Kosovo* which supports women initiatives in technology and science through entrepreneurship, scholarship and internship scheme.

Finally, CSOs are recognised as a valuable asset for promoting gender equality and gender parity in STEM. The noteworthy initiatives are observed in the region with different associations promoting women in STEM, such as the Network of Women in STEM in Albania, IT girls in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Women in Tech North Macedonia, Committee for Women in Mathematics in Montenegro, and the Women in Engineering - Affinity Group in Serbia.

In order to identify the community of change agents, and their role in strengthening capacity of individuals, organisations, and corporations to influence policies in STEM in the Western Balkans, the study analysed the perceptions of activists and professionals in STEM fields with an aim of developing a model that can be applied in further research and during the implementation of regional STEM initiatives in the Western Balkans. To this end, the study has confirmed the importance of establishing a Regional Network of professionals, activists, entrepreneurs, policy makers and enthusiasts for advancing the status of Women in STEM in the Western Balkans. The Network of Women in STEM should in particular focus on: (i) implementing campaigns that provide visibility to female role models in STEM; (ii) providing networking opportunities for policy makers, STEM professionals, educators and researchers to exchange experience and decrease gender gap in STEM; and (iii) developing mentoring initiatives and encouraging women to enter career in STEM fields.

As a result of regional efforts in this regard, the Network is considered to not only provide an effective tool of empowering women in STEM, boosting their confidence and self-esteem and providing assistance in their career development, but also to provide policy advice for development of a comprehensive policy and institutional framework for bridging the gender gap in STEM, retaining women in science, technology and industry, and encouraging their leadership.

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Geographical focus
  • European Union (EU 27)
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Admin on January 14, 2021
Modified on January 14, 2021