Why Does Gender Matter in Science?
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the LICCI team takes the opportunity to recognize the key contribution of women to science. Above all, we want to honor the fantastic work of women researchers and knowledge holders in Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities who are pushing forward gender studies from the field.
Bridging the Gender Gap in Science
Despite the increasing number of women scientists, women continue to be under-represented in academia. According to Unesco data, women account for less than 30% of the world’s researchers. Gender disparities are also found in researcher‘s salary and citation index. Among major barriers, family obligations, financial aspects and gender discrimination are key factors that limit women’s career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Against this background, we need to increase women representativity and promote gender equality in scientific research. Not only for fairness and ethical reasons but also because high-quality science requires to get women on board. Having more women scientists means that women’s perspectives and knowledge are more likely to be integrated into research projects and contribute to meet major challenges of our time such as climate change or poverty eradication. Promoting inspiring women role models, developing mentorship programs for women early career researchers and strengthening women scientific networks are some of the many solutions to address the gender imbalance in academia.
Beyond gender equity in research staff, all scientific fields should adopt a gender perspective. While gendered science offers great potential, most researchers are failing to consider this variable in their study. Yet, a gender-based analysis brings important insights and contributes to a more exhaustive sampling and solid results whichever the research field of interest. Besides scientific accuracy, gender studies are also particularly useful to unfold hidden gendered power relation to better inform and guide gender-just policies. The recent application of the gender lens particularly in social science such as archaeology push forward numerous studies and allowed many new discoveries . But this approach is also crucial to overcome the current issue in the conservation effort by co-building knowledge with indigenous people and local communities .
LICCI: Applying a Gender Lens on Climate and Indigenous Knowledge Research
Within the LICCI project, we also grasp the perception of climate change through the gender lens Up to now, most of the literature about indigenous knowledge has focused on male knowledge. However, women also possess specific knowledge and know-how, which represent an uninvestigated source of information with untapped potential for climate change research. At LICCI, we recognize the need to value the complementarity of men and women’s views within indigenous knowledge systems to gain a more holistic and representative understanding of local climate change impacts and related adapting strategies. We are currently investigating the gendered perceptions of climate change impacts in various climatic and cultural settings. Unesco. (2015). UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030.817p, available on https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000235406  C. Hedenstierna‐Jonson et al. 2017. A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23308  Victoria Reyes-García and Petra Benyei, 2019. Indigenous knowledge for conservation. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-019-0341-z