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Women's Movement Slow to Embrace S&T, Malcom Tells UNESCO Forum
Women around the world have seen their lives transformed by science and technology, yet the women's movement has been slow to use S&T to bring more economic and political power to women, said Shirley Malcom, AAAS head of Education and Human Resources, at a UNESCO conference in Paris.
"Over time it has been recognized that disparities created in part by access to S&T can only be addressed by taking hold of S&T, to enable, educate and empower," Malcom said.
"In spite of the fact that we have made little progress in convincing the women's groups of the need to address S&T, we need within the science, engineering and technology communities to seek opportunities to better the situation for women and men," Malcom said later.
Malcom and an elite group of researchers and policymakers met in December at the international conference, "Gender, Science and Technology for Sustainable Development: Looking Ahead to the Next 10 Years," to discuss the continuing goals of the Gender Advisory Board of the U.N. Commission on Science and Technology for Development. Malcom is a Gender Advisory Board co-chair, along with Farkhonda Hassan, a professor of geology at the American University in Cairo who serves as secretary-general of the National Council for Women in Egypt.
In 1995, the Gender Advisory Board proposed a number of ways to improve the global status of women through science and technology, including making S&T careers more accessible to women and making science more responsive to the needs of women in society. Since then, the "gender dimension" has been variously spotlighted and shunned at international conferences, Malcom said.
For instance, she singled out the 1999 World Conference on Science as "providing some of the most progressive and visionary language linking science, technology and gender," but noted that "the science and technology dimensions once again moved into the shadows" at the UN's Beijing +5 Women's Conference held in 2000.
"It has been troubling to most of us who work on these issues that the strategies...have moved further away from attention to S&T as providing tools and mechanisms to produce equality," Malcom said in her speech.
Malcom has built a broad record of accomplishment and advocacy, and is regarded globally as a leader in efforts to improve science and engineering education and diversity in those fields. She has chaired a number of U.S. committees addressing education reform and access to scientific and technical education, careers and literacy. In 2003, she received the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the highest award given by the Academy.
She received her doctorate in ecology from Pennsylvania State University; her master's degree in zoology from the University of California, Los Angeles; and a bachelor's degree with distinction in zoology from the University of Washington.
19 January 2007