It is almost a year since 200 renowned female scientists, engineers and mathematicians, all under 50-years old, from 25 countries across the globe, celebrated their achievements in STEM.
At a conference hosted by Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), the American (US) Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the U.S. Department of State, these female leaders in science shared their stories of triumph and adversity on the road to reaching the top echelons in STEM within a decade. It was a celebration of unique feats of epic accomplishment and strength.
Every one of these highly successful women agreed that it took perseverance despite many challenges in what was still in many countries, considered a male domain.
It is our responsibility to pave a better road for the future of girls and women – Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director General, KFAS
During the event, Shihab-Eldin said the advancement of STEM and the need for continuous new development, innovation in science, technology and innovation, rested on the shoulders of women and called for deliberate changes in the workplace. He argued for the building of platforms and collaborative dialogue to ensure women become leaders and innovators in their communities and across the globe.
The conference, a celebration of a decade of women in science, provided figures on male-female in STEM ratios across the globe. Only 30% of global researchers are female, with even less across the African continent. This necessitated more than ever before, changing criteria involving merit and hard work rather than gender when appointments in leadership positions were made.
While much change had been seen in the STEM industry, various speakers once again addressed policies affecting the advancement of women in science and in turn, affect the world. In his opening presentation, Lawrence Silverman, ambassador of the USA to the Arab nation told attendees that the “world could not afford to miss out on what female scientists could offer.”
Participants of the conference, which saw its inception in 2017, had unifying goals, such as to create a space for inspiration and communication among women across disciplines and countries. In her opening remarks, Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, president of the Jordan Royal Scientific Society, said, “As much of the population of our world sees little hope for a stable and prosperous future, it is inconceivable that the talent, drive and compassionate creativity of half of our population should not be utilised to the full. We graciously offer our services.”
During the three-day conference, several key themes were discussed and brought people of various cultural backgrounds and disciplines together opening up opportunities for future collaboration. Networks were started to promote interdisciplinary work and provide mentorship. There is no denying that the world is finally noticing that innovation needed women and a clarion call had been made to ensure their unique talents would be harnessed for the greater good.