Reducing the Gender Gap in Natural Sciences and Mathematics

This past March 15-16th, El Salvador was host to a workshop called “Reducing the Gender Gap in Natural Sciences and Mathematics”. Several experts from all over Latin America were in attendance, giving their expertise on the subject. Hundreds of people involved in the area of mathematics and science were present, listening to the experts and asking questions.

The Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the International Council for Science (ICSU ROLAC); the Ministry of Education of El Salvador (MINED); the Vice Ministry of Science and Technology of El Salvador; and the Committee for Women in Mathematics of the International Mathematica Union (CWM-IMU) co-organized the workshop entitled: “Global approach to the gender gap in the natural sciences and mathematics: How to measure it, and how to reduce it?” which took place in San Salvador, El Salvador on March 15-16, 2018.

This Workshop addressed the problem of the gender gap in Mathematics and sought to share “good practices”, define and propose concrete actions in the medium and long-term to significantly change the landscape of Mathematics in our Region. The event was inaugurated by the Honorable Minister of Education from El Salvador; ICSU ROLAC’s regional director, Dr. Manuel Limonta; and Dr. Liliam Álvarez, a member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences

The event had the participation of relevant Latin American experts in gender and mathematics: Elizabeth Rincón, (Dominican Republic); Zelmira May (UNESCO, Uruguay); Ángela Camacho (Colombia); Gabriela Araujo (México) and Liliam Álvarez (Cuba). In addition to these presenters, Salvadoran teachers, researchers, ad post-graduate students could participate in the meeting: Sara Vilma Rodríguez de Chicas, Claudia Patricia Corcio de Beltrán, Maritza Pleitez, and Ana Ester Argueta.

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The workshop featured lectures on topics such as: “Building bridges – educating girls and women in STEM”; “Women teachers of Mathematics in El Salvador. Presenting the current panorama”; “Mathematics is the Language of Physics”, amongst others. Debates, panels, discussions, group work, and presentations were also activities carried out in this activity, which had a two-day combined attendance of approximately 700 people, most of the teachers from various academic levels, and students related to natural sciences and mathematics.

On day one of the workshop, the audience could hear the lectures from Dr. Elizabeth Rincon, Dr. Zelmira May, Dr. Angela Camacho, and Gabriela Araujo. The morning session was moderated by Dr. Liliam Álvarez, while the afternoon session was moderated by Lic. Oscar Águila, and Ing. Jessica Martínez, in representation of the Ministry of Education of El Salvador. While the second day started with an intervention of Dr. Gabriela Araujo who presented some videos which dealt with women in mathematics. Such videos were prepared by the Mexican Mathematics Union and can be found here

. Then the audience was split into three different groups and were given some time to discuss their experiences, best practices, common problems and challenges and alike.  Then, representatives from each group were asked to present a summary of the discussions held in each group.

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The workshop successfully gathered well-known and recognized math and gender experts with local authorities and math teachers and students, an encounter which allowed a bidirectional exchange of ideas, concepts, roles, challenges, and opportunities. The workshop also allowed experts to provide their insights and recommendations for local authorities to reduce the gender gap between men and women in the natural sciences and mathematics, recommendations which can be easily scaled into the regional level.

The workshop was well-received by an enthusiastic audience and by the local authorities, fact that motivated experts to thank participants and encourage them to make whatever is within their possibilities to start reducing this gender gap. Finally, it was agreed that experts, local authorities, and ICSU ROLAC would continue working and building upon the foundations set on this successful workshop.

You can have access to the presentations used in the workshop and other audiovisual materials such as videos, to do so, clink in the links below.