Uzbekistan: The Success of Women in Science is a Mirror of Society

Women Science

One of the goals of the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2026 is dedicated to supporting women and further increasing their activity in society, which is the most important task for the formation of a democratic state. According to the strategy, the priorities of work in this direction are ensuring gender equality, increasing the role of women in socio-political life, comprehensive assistance to them in obtaining education and professions, finding decent work, supporting women’s entrepreneurship, identifying and correctly targeting the abilities of gifted girls.

The adopted National Program for increasing the activity of women in all spheres of economic, political and social life of the country for 2022-2026 lists measures to create additional conditions for further increasing the role of women in the field of science and technology. An example of large-scale projects aimed at overcoming gender differences in girls and women receiving higher education and their employment are the “One Million Programmers” project and the “Technovation Girls Uzbekistan” competition.

Currently, more than 700 women doctors of science and 5 women academicians are working in scientific and educational institutions of Uzbekistan. The intellectual work of these scientists, especially in fields such as chemistry, biotechnology and agriculture, is receiving national and international recognition. About 3,000 women are actively engaged in research at scientific institutes of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan.

Despite these advances, a new UNESCO science report shows that women make up only 28 percent of engineering graduates and 40 percent of computer and information science graduates worldwide, highlighting continued inequality among women in science and technology.

In Uzbekistan, according to the Statistics Agency, the proportion of women graduates of science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in higher education is increasing. If in 2017 it was 32.6 percent, then in 2021 it was 40.2 percent. At the end of 2022, the share of graduates of higher education programs in natural sciences, mathematics and statistics, social security, information and communication technologies, engineering, mechanical processing and construction in Uzbekistan amounted to 27.3 percent. 

Although Uzbek women scientists achieve outstanding success, they continue to face challenges common to their colleagues from around the world. Gender stereotypes, cultural expectations, and historical lack of representation in some scientific disciplines create barriers. Efforts undertaken in the country are aimed at solving these problems. They encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields through education and mentoring programs.

It is known that the STEM field plays one of the key roles in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals included by the UN General Assembly in the general agenda for the period up to 2030. Focused on addressing social, economic and environmental issues, the 17 interrelated goals aim to improve people’s quality of life. The development of STEM education and STEM employment contributes to the creation of sustainable and inclusive communities and the achievement of the goals of “Quality Education”, “Gender Equality”, “Industrialization, Innovation and Infrastructure”, “Reducing Inequality”.

The development of STEM is in the area of ​​close attention of international organizations and states. The reason for this is not only the potential that exists for the constructive transformation of scientific communities, but also the gender gap characteristic of the field.

The UNDP Accelerator Lab in Uzbekistan presented a report with the results of a study devoted to the study of gender factors in the development of STEM education. It was held in Tashkent, Fergana, Andijan and Surkhandarya regions. The main focus of the study is on identifying factors that positively influence the choice of girls and women in STEM education and professions. Several significant factors shaping the trajectory of women in STEM are highlighted.

Girls and women show increased levels of participation in STEM regardless of parental education. Notably, siblings’ technical education becomes a key determinant of career choice in this field. Motivations for choosing STEM professions reach their peak in adolescence and early youth. Factors such as self-realization, self-development, and growth opportunities play a key role in shaping the choice of profession. Psychological characteristics and reliable social support become the cornerstone for confident decision-making in favor of STEM fields.

A number of recommendations are offered to create conditions conducive to the success of women in this field. These include developing policies that support women’s education in STEM fields and creating internship opportunities abroad to broaden the horizons and experiences of female students. Experts say it will help to create STEM-themed TV shows and TED Talk platforms featuring successful women in the industry that can inspire future generations.

The need for women to recognize their rightful place in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is critical. Although women have the right to participate in scientific development processes, statistics still indicate a dominant role for men in this field worldwide, especially in industrialized countries.

The achievements of Uzbek women in science serve as a catalyst for change. As role models, they inspire the next generation to dream big and break social barriers. By breaking traditional stereotypes and seizing opportunities, women can contribute to creating a more inclusive and diverse scientific community.