Welcome to the home of the Gender Summits
The aim of the 3rd Gender Summit, which is focused on North America, was to interconnect all relevant stakeholders in a Call to Action to achieve positive change towards greater diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce and leadership, and greater inclusion of biological sex and gender considerations or the “gender dimension” in research content and process. The event was on the 13 - 15 November 2013 at the Washington Hilton in Washington DC. We are looking foward to the Gender Summit 4 - Europe
Established in 2011, the Gender Summit has become the foremost forum for engaging top-level researchers, policy makers, science and innovation leaders, and other and stakeholders in STEM, to address gender issues in research and innovation. The 2013 forum will leverage the international capacity in advancing the knowledge base about the influence of gender considerations on the efficacy, quality and success of various sectors in promoting discovery and innovation in the scientific enterprise.
Goals and Objectives
The Gender Summit promoted evidence-based, concerted and integrated actions by all participating stakeholders engaged in STEM. More specifically, this effort will:
- Develop a collective commitment and capacity to strengthen human capital development, research and innovation through diversity, by creating an innovative STEM conceptual framework of transformative opportunities that is responsive to the needs of both women and men
- Demonstrate quality evidence of how incorporating the gender dimension into STEM research and innovation contribute to excellence and maximize capacity to address societal challenges
- Expand and transform the Gender Summit into a global level forum for collaborative dialogue and activities focused on shaping science and society through the inclusion of gender dimension in research, innovation, and markets for science knowledge
- Share solutions on how to incorporate the gender dimension in research methods, institutional structures, funding structures and peer review processes
- Maximize national and international capacity to address common and diverse societal challenges by fostering an inclusive community of experts -- cross-disciplinary, government, industry, academic, and citizen partnerships.
The presence of women in science and engineering as experimenters, research subjects, and leaders does matter. However, too often the science and engineering knowledge base has had much more evidence for men than for women.
This historical trend of not considering the gender dimension has been propagating research that produces different outcomes for women and men, as well as a variety of gender bias in science knowledge base. The exclusion of women in past toxicology research, for example, has created flaws in our understanding of the adverse health effects due to exposure to toxic metals, especially arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead, which constitute serious public health problems worldwide and affect women and men in significantly different ways.
While historically, gender bias in research mostly disadvantaged women, and sometimes also affected men (e.g. diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer), new research increasingly reports cases where important biological and psychosocial differences have been shown to influence outcomes for both women and men.
The research evidence demonstrates also that paying attention to the gender dimension in study design can lead to important discoveries. It has been shown, for example, that the metabolic profiles of women and men are significantly different at molecular level. A new hypothesis is needed to explain sexual dimorphism occurring at the level of biochemical mechanisms that maintain cell’s homeostasis, which cannot be explained by the hormonal hypothesis. Understanding this will have important consequences for diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, such as the use of biomarkers in diseases, for example, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, and in aging.
The Gender Summit brought together a diverse group of national and international experts and stakeholders from various types of institutions to discuss the new perspectives emerging from studies of sex and gender differences and how they create opportunities to be specific about what it means for science to be “gender neutral,” that is, to show that the study design has taken into account the needs of both women and men as equally important. The benefits are considerable, not only for the quality and outcomes of research, but also for new opportunities to apply research findings to create new markets for science knowledge.
The Summit addressed the following questions:
- What is the compelling research evidence that demands immediate response?
- What are the most appropriate, beneficial and impactful actions that different stakeholders can take?
- What mechanisms are needed to strengthen inter-stakeholder collaboration?
- What strategy is best to achieve global impact?