The data base of good practices
What was achieved in the Database of Good Practices for girls and young women, parents and organizations?
We have assembled a selection of initiatives for reducing the gender gap in many countries and disciplines. Moreover, we have developed a set of dimensions that in our assessment characterize “good practices” and applied these to the initiatives in an attempt to explain WHY they “work”.
These dimensions are based on the SAGA Science, Technology and Innovation Gender Objectives List (STI GOL) developed by UNESCO. The SAGA list has seven dimensions of good practice that were originally created to classify policies rather than practices. Because our database is meant to assemble examples of good practices, we modified the SAGA list by adding more subcategories in order to capture a broader and more relevant range of practical gender interventions.
Can you say something about good practices?
Good practices are multi-dimensional and address the gender gap in science across many contexts: in society; in school and vocational education; in higher education; in careers; and in research, policy-making and entrepreneurship. When we were searching for examples of good practices to include in the database, we found the highest proportion of examples within the first four of these categories.
By far the most frequent type of initiative involved promoting STEM careers to girls and young women in school or vocational education contexts; for example, by stimulating interest, providing career information, and presenting role models. But simply telling females about STEM opportunities is unlikely to make a great difference to the gender gap, unless other supporting strategies are implemented.
Four such strategies are illustrated in the subcategories that we added to the STI GOL list:
- Engage families and communities in promoting STEM careers to girls, especially when these careers are contrary to cultural expectations and norms;
- Engage females in exploring socio-scientific issues;
- Promote social support for females, such as peer networks and mentoring by more experienced STEM researchers or professionals;
- Develop females’ STEM leadership, advocacy and communication skills.
Collectively, these additional “good practices” emphasize the need for support that is sensitive to girls’ and young women’s social and cultural contexts.
What are the tools produced by the Database of Good Practices approach?
We produced a searchable database of good practices. Each initiative was classified according to its geographical origin, discipline, intended audience or target participants, dimensions of good practice, and evidence of effectiveness and impact. A preliminary version of the database is online. It is possible for users to propose new initiatives to be added to the database and we wish to encourage such contributions in the future.
Marie-Françoise Roy et Colette Guillopé