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A View Toward 2008: Global Science
In the last hours of the 2007 Annual Meeting, down at the end of a long hallway that had been thronged with people for nearly five days, a small group gathered in a room to talk about a story that is little known in much of the world's S&T community.
The symposium was on the role that women scientists and engineers play--and will play--in contributing to innovation in the greater Middle East and Northern Africa. It featured women from Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine; in the audience were women from Israel and Iran, Europe and the United States.
The session was a three-hour reprise of a landmark conference in Kuwait last month, co-sponsored by AAAS, that brought more than 200 women scientists and engineers from throughout the Arab world together, along with about 20 women cohorts from the United States. In San Francisco, as in Kuwait, they discussed the diversity of Arab culture, the support in Islamic teachings for educated and working women, and the progress made by many women in education and professional life. And, too, they grappled with challenges that women over most of the globe know well: Cultural barriers to women's full participation in society, equal opportunity in the workplace, the need for mentoring and networking.
As important as those issues was the dialogue itself, the cross-cultural collegiality.
"I want you to know that having just one session like this--one of how many hundreds of sessions at this meeting--it really inspires us, and we need that," said geologist Farkhonda Hassan, a member of the Egyptian Parliament and secretary-general for the National Council for Women in Egypt.
AAAS Chief International Officer Vaughan Turekian, one of the symposium organizers, noted that the globalization of science will be the theme of the 2008 Annual Meeting in Boston. He expressed hope that it would bring together not just women scientists and engineers, but women and men, along with business leaders and others, to discuss the role of S&T in building global trust and improving people's lives.
21 February 2007