Profiles of Women in STE in Egypt

Education:

Literacy Rate (2006)  47%
Primary School Enrollment (2006)  94%
Secondary School Enrollment (2006)  77%
Tertiary School Enrollment  N/A
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Science (1995/1996)  33%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Medicine (1995/1996)  45%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Engineering (1995/1996)  30%

Employment:

2006 Female Labor Force Participation Rate:  20%
Wage Equality for Similar Work (Ratio of women’s wage to men’s wage)  0.76
Enterprise-Level Policies to Combat and Prevent Sexual Harassment  3.24
    • Egypt has a long history of education in the arts and sciences. Education is compulsory until age 15 and is free at all levels. Science education is a compulsory subject in school. It starts at the kindergarten level, and continues on until the first two years of secondary school. During the last two years, students can choose to concentrate in science-related subjects. While there is little resistance to educating girls, some poorer families may choose to keep their daughters at home after age 15 to work and earn money, while they continue to send their sons to school, a trend particularly apparent in rural communities. Primary school enrollment for girls is impressive at 94%, but gradually drops off at the tertiary level. However, this is largely due to a general lack of university enrollment, regardless of gender.
    • At Egypt’s 13 public universities, women comprise almost half of the student body. Education in science is still actively pursued by female students. Generally, female students studying the basic sciences concentrate in chemistry and life sciences rather than physics and mathematics. However, women are beginning to enter these fields, traditionally seen as male-dominated fields. The study of science as a whole lacks great attention in Egypt, as the percentage of the study body who studies the subject is very low; only 3% of women and only 3.2% of the men study science in 1995/1996 the school year. Farkhonda Hassan, Secretary-General for the National Council for Women in Egypt, states that “Although educational policy in Egypt provides free education for all, regardless of gender, thus offering boys and girls equal opportunities, a discipline-based analysis shows the drastic effects of gender stereotyping.” According to the Scientific Research and Technology Academy’s Amal Makhlouf, even the scientific curricula are gender biased in relating concepts to everyday experience.
    • Women comprise one third of the scientific community in Egypt. In 2002-2003, of the total faculty members in S&T faculties in national universities, 30.7% of the science faculty were female, 31.8% of the computer science faculty were female, 35.8% of the medical faculty were female, 49.8% of the dentistry faculty were female, 55.5% of the pharmacy faculty were female, 100% of the nursing faculty were female, 52.8% of the physical therapy faculty were female, 23.3% of the vet medicine faculty were female, 13.2% of the engineering faculty were female, and 21.1% of the agriculture faculty were female. However, the science and technology community is underutilized as a whole and does not play an effective role in the production sector. With changes in macroeconomic policies, resource reallocation and structural rearrangements are generally male-biased, and women’s employment suffers. Gender disparities are still visible at the national and enterprise level. Women only hold 2% of the high-level positions in science, in large part because hiring, tenure, and promotion at universities are determined by the Minister of Higher Education, whose procedures frequently discriminate against women. There are almost no female deans or university presidents. Further discrimination is evident in the government-sponsored sector of scientific research, which women only make up 36.3% of those employed in this field. Although, one source sites that women hold 43.5% of non-university science and technology positions, very few of these women hold high decision-making positions. Employed women are typically from higher economic classes; however, they still face gender-based wage gaps.
    • Egypt currently has no sexual harassment laws.
  • Other non-governmental efforts have been underway in Egypt to promote women in science and technology. The North Africa Sub-Region Workshop on Gender, Science and Technology was held recently in Cairo, at which Hassan announced the launch of a project to establish a database to collect gender disaggregated data at the national and region levels on women’s status in the labor market. Other bodies involved with this issue include the Education, Training, and Scientific Research at the National Council of Women, headed by Hoda Rashad. The National Committee on Women in Science and Technology was established in 2003 under the umbrella of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology of Egypt. This organization brings women into the spotlight in the science and technology community with hopes of closing the gender gap at decision-making levels.

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