According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, access to basic education is a human right. In addition, education is an instrument that has a significant impact on women’s economic empowerment. Education is one of the most important sources of women’s empowerment. Although millions of girls and young women across the world still face huge barriers to education. So, let’s see what happens in real life.
Over the past century countries have made significant progress in narrowing long-standing gender gaps in many areas of education. But new gender gaps in education are opening. Young men are significantly more likely than young women to be less engaged with school and have low skills and poor academic achievement. They are also more likely to leave school and have low skills and poor academic achievement. There is also a gap in some fields as mathematic and engineering. Even if we thought that many adolescents would choose this field, only 14% of young women who entered university for the first time in 2012 chose science-related fields, including engineering manufacturing on construction.
So, do we know how many women choose engineering instead of following it for their entire life? Only 9% of the engineering workforce is female. And only fewer people of registered engineers and technicians are women. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Social Institutions and Gender Index 2014, classifies Egypt to be among the countries ‘very high’ in gender discrimination together with others in Africa and the Middle East. It is worth telling that ECDS, as mentioned, measures legislation, practices and attitudes that restrict women’s rights and also opportunities. Women comprise one third of the scientific community in Egypt. Especially, in 2002-2003, of the total faculty members in S&T faculties in national universities only 13.2% of the engineering faculty were female.
Are there any differences from the situation that exists in Greece? The women engineers constitute approximately 20% of the Greek engineers’ body. Overall, about 20% of undergraduate engineering degrees are awarded to women, but only 13% of the engineering workforce is female. Numerous explanations have been offered for this discrepancy, including a lack of mentorship for woman in the field; a variety of factors that produce less confidence for female engineers and the demands for woman of maintaining a balance between work and family life.
Now let’s imagine two women, one Greek and one Egyptian. Even if the Greek woman has more chances to follow engineering than the Egyptian one, both of them face the same case of having the traditional role of the housekeeper and home manager. Which is the challenge? Once those women are working as engineers, let’s get them into leadership roles. Making sure that brilliant minds are also considered for every position boosts their confidence in a male-dominates arena. Their skills are not only valuable but essential to our scientific progress. And in the end engineering wants more women in both countries.
(volunteer program with AIESEC about gender equality)