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The virtual conference on Understanding the causes of gender disparities in STEM-related TVET was moderated by Epke Vogel and Carmen Kurvers from the Centre for Innovation of Education and Training (CINOP). It was organized at the occasion of the launching of the UNESCO-UNEVOC report on Boosting gender equality in science and technology. A challenge for TVET programmes and careers.


Introduction

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related technical and vocational education and training (TVET) has a potentially significant role to play in providing the skills and competencies required to support innovation, productivity and international competitiveness as well as areas of social development including health and education. It is thus an important driver for achieving a range of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contributing to inclusive and sustainable societies. STEM skills and knowledge can be required for both ‘traditional’ and ‘emerging’ occupations; STEM-related careers are often referred to as the ‘jobs of the future’, driving innovation, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Even as STEM subjects and skills are becoming more essential in today’s world, gender disparities are prevalent in these fields. In recent years, much has been done to help inspire girls and women to study and work in technical fields. Yet long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from STEM-related fields, which means that a large pool of potential skills that could contribute to economic development remains untapped. It can put major constraints on the individual lives of women and contribute to transmitting gender inequalities across generations.

Recognizing the gap in TVET-specific data and literature, UNESCO-UNEVOC conducted a study on Boosting gender equality in science and technology. A challenge for TVET programmes and careers throughout 2019 and 2020. The virtual conference was organized at the occasion of the launching of this newly completed study report that reviews available evidence of the situation faced by girls and women in STEM-related TVET.

Against this background, the virtual conference aimed to:

  • Share findings from the UNESCO-UNEVOC study on Boosting gender equality in science and technology. A challenge for TVET programmes and careers
  • Explore the individual, parental/peer, school-level and societal influences on girls’ and women’s enrolment, learning achievement and progression to STEM-related occupations
  • Collect insights from TVET stakeholders and policymakers on the barriers for girls and women within STEM-related TVET and the change-maker role that TVET institutions and teachers can play
  • Identify areas of successful practice in increasing the participation and performance of girls and women in STEM-related TVET, and initiatives to improve the participation of women in STEM-related occupations

Format and agenda

Virtual conferences are asynchronous discussions that take place on the TVET Forum. The moderator opens threads around specific topics and questions, and all participants are encouraged to contribute to the discussion by posting messages.

The following threads were opened for discussion on the days specified.
From 23 to 27 November:

Monday Context: Current state of gender equality in STEM-related TVET
Tuesday TVET institutions: TVET institutional level factors affecting gender equality in STEM-related TVET
Wednesday Labour market: Women in STEM-related labour market sectors – the leaky-pipeline phenomena
Thursday Societal and personal factors: Societal and personal factors affecting gender equality in STEM-related TVET
Friday Policies: Government strategies for promoting gender equality in STEM-related TVET



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