Women and girls are markedly under-represented in STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines - both as students and in the workforce - in most countries across the globe.
At Higher Education level, only 35% of students enrolled in STEM studies internationally are women (UNESCO, 2017a). Addressing this problem is vital in ensuring equitable access to quality education and meaningful work. It is also crucial for countries wanting to prioritise equitable economic development - speaking directly to UN SDGs 4, 5, and 6.
This project investigates how far - and in what ways - gender may influence student progression through higher education, graduation and skilled employment in the STEM sector in India and Rwanda, with some comparative research in the UK.
More broadly, it explores new understandings and methods of investigating the relationship between gender and other aspects of identity and aspects of educational and occupational cultures in STEM.
Aims and objectives
Both our countries of focus, India and Rwanda, currently have a severe under-representation of women STEM students in HE, and in relation to the skilled workforce, and there is a limited amount of research in these countries, as in many global south contexts, on gender and STEM issues post-secondary school.
What is particularly under-researched is the gendered journeys of students once they have accessed university and beyond into skilled employment. Moreover, most lower and middle-income countries do not collect detailed disaggregated data to document access, retention, transfer/dropout, and successful graduation at HE level, especially by institution and discipline. Neither is there information on the onward journeys of students after they leave education. Our research seeks to address these gaps.
The project consists of a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, including:
- Secondary statistical data analysis of gendered patterns of HE participation and achievement - utilising available data in India and Rwanda, and UK data for comparative purposes
- Large-scale primary survey data with STEM students in both countries.
- A range of detailed qualitative methods, including in-depth interviews with three sets of participants in India and Rwanda (followed up a year later): first-year STEM students and final-year STEM students at a university in each country and employees in a key STEM employer in each country
Further project details are on the Gendered Journeys website.
The project aims to utilise the findings for a range of materials/activities, including:
- The development of gender-sensitive virtual support ‘toolkits’, developed in conjunction with student participants
- Gender-sensitive CPD materials, developed in conjunction with STEM academic and industry staff and tailored to appropriate national/regional contexts.
Project team members and advisors
- Dr Barbara Read, @BarbaraRead35
- Dr Srabani Maitra, @Sraban_I
- Professor Bonnie Slade, @drbonnieslade
- Professor Catherine Lido, @CatherineLido
- Zyra Evangelista, @evangelista_zy
- Dr Preeti Dagar, @PreetiDagar_
- Daniel Leyton
- Julie Cooper
- Professor Manish Kumar Thakur
- Professor Saikat Maitra