Pakistani Women in Science and Technology
Pakistan is a developing country that is striving to accelerate its economic growth and catch up with the pace of the fast growing economies of the region. It is committed to achieve Millennium Development Goals including elimination of gender disparity at all levels, especially in education by the year 2015, for which serious efforts are being made to include gender concerns in government strategies and overall sectoral programs. Gender disparity in literacy and enrollment is one of the key focuses of the government. In Pakistan, status of women has improved in recent years but gender inequality remains pervasive.The hope for the future of any country is the capability to expand, maintain and attract the best talent. Women are about 48.5 % of Pakistan’s total population. Despite constituting almost half of the population, women are an underutilized talent. For achieving national development it is an economic necessity to utilize their talents to the full at all levels of scientific and technological education, training and employment. The low socio-economic status of women in Pakistan is beginning to be recognized as a potentially significant drag on the country’s growth. No doubt, women are growing in numbers in the traditional male professions such as engineering, law, medicine, business, the police and the military. Women's ranks have also grown in the nation's entertainment, news and mass media and they are much freer than ever to express themselves in the choice of appearance, speech, clothing, arts, entertainment etc. A number of women have moved up into the executive positions. Women now make up 4.6% of board members of Pakistani companies. About 22 percent of Pakistani females over the age of 10 now work, up from 14 percent a decade ago, government statistics show. Working women have a very positive and transformational impact on society by having fewer children, and by investing more time, money and energies for better nutrition, education and health care of their children. They spend 97 percent of their income and savings on their families, more than twice as much as men who spend only 40 percent on their families.It has been seen in general that women work with greater dedication and more meticulously than men. For example in Pakistan, women are 28% of the total workforce yet they generate 40% of production. At the same time it is a general law of capitalism that women workers are paid less than their male counterparts all around the world.In a global gender gap survey by The World Economic Forum of 135 countries, Pakistan is placed at 134 in ranking (The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 showing a widening gap down from 112 in 2006 to 135 in 2013. The study covers 136 countries representing more than 90 percent of the world’s population. It shows that overall, 95(86%) percent of the countries covered in 2006–2013 have improved their performance, while 15 (14%) percent have widening gaps. Unfortunately Pakistan lies among 14%.The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 indicating Scores and Rank of Pakistan in last eight years (Published by the World Economic Forum.)Realizing the widening gender gap and the obscured status of women in socio-economic development, especially focusing on the gender dimension of science and technology (S&T), Pakistan Council for Science & Technology (PCST) has taken a lead to foster women in scientific community and to improve visibility of women scientists by maintaining a website and starting a project on collecting data on statistics of women representation in science and technology. The data and materials from this web resource would hopefully serve as a reference material for the scientific community and for the professionals working in the field of women’s empowerment, as well.