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‘We must engage women in STEM’

By Dr Kristian Olson, Director of the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) at Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health

According to Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, women are still disproportionately underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The U.S. Department of Commerce calculates women represent only 24% of the STEM workforce and earn 41% of the PhDs in STEM fields. Women with STEM degrees are less likely than men to work in a STEM occupation, largely due to a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping and less family-friendly flexibility in STEM fields.

The 9th European Innovation Summit offers the global health community “an opportunity to reflect on how we can innovate more intelligently by making better use of available knowledge and resources.” To innovate more intelligently, we must engage women in STEM to make better use of not only their knowledge and resources but also their perspectives and ideas. Women may abdicate innovation because STEM fields appear to be male-dominated, particularly in low-resource settings. Closing the gender gap in medtech requires a multi-sector approach that truly emphasizes co-creation, not only between disciplines, but also between men and women.

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