Publication: Engendering Access to STEM Education and Careers in South Asia: Overview

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Overview Booklet (1.7 MB)
Sosale, Shobhana
Harrison, Graham Mark
Tognatta, Namrata
Nakata, Shiro
Mukesh Gala, Priyal
Building a skilled and diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is crucial for economic development, cross-border trade, and social inclusion in South Asia. However, underrepresentation of girls and women in STEM education and careers remains a persistent issue. What kinds of macro and micro socioeconomic interventions are needed to increase girls’ and women’s access to and participation in STEM education and careers in South Asia? Engendering Access to STEM Education and Careers in South Asia compares trends in South Asia with global trends to examine how access to and choices of STEM fields affects girls’ enrollment in upper secondary education, technical and vocational education and training, and higher education in the region, as well as selection of careers. Based on the analysis, it offers recommendations to policy makers and practitioners to improve inclusion. The following are among the findings: •Four key intervention points to increase inclusion in STEM education and careers and staunch the “leaky pipeline” are at enrollment in the upper primary, lower and upper secondary, and tertiary education levels; and during early career years. •A strong pathway from STEM education to career depends on an integrated, systematic approach that motivates students to pursue STEM fields, builds STEM skills, and removes barriers to diversity. •With the increasing migration of workers between countries in South Asia, preparing a critical mass of semiskilled and skilled STEM migrant workers has cross-border value, especially for workers migrating from smaller to larger economies. New ways of defining STEM occupations are required to help develop and sustain female interest in STEM education and careers. Potential strategies that governments can pursue include raising awareness and building knowledge and skills in STEM outside the formal academic environment, such as in after-school programs, science fairs and competitions, and summer camps, and developing and systematically disseminating standardized resources. Inclusion and diversity must be championed by governments, the private sector, and by stakeholders who stand to benefit from more diverse workforces. Though women themselves would likely be credible champions, in South Asia they are often constrained by a range of factors. This report addresses some of those factors.
Sosale, Shobhana; Harrison, Graham Mark; Tognatta, Namrata; Nakata, Shiro; Mukesh Gala, Priyal. 2023. Engendering Access to STEM Education and Careers in South Asia: Overview. South Asia Development Forum;. © Washington, DC: World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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