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Improving the pathway from school to STEM careers for girls and women

Eliana Rubiano-Matulevich's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español

The launch of the Human Capital Project has galvanized global action to close human capital gaps, and has highlighted the importance of investments in the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, to realize their potential as productive members of society.

Improving both the quantity and quality of education is pivotal to empowering young people to fulfill their potential. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is critical not only for fulfilling the needs of the future workforce, but also for producing researchers and innovators who can help to solve intractable challenges.

The underrepresentation of women and girls in STEM gets a lot of attention, but the data on access to, and quality of, education shows that the story is more nuanced.

At primary school level globally, there is gender parity in both enrollment and completion–a remarkable achievement of recent times. Gender gaps emerge in a number of low-income countries, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in some Latin American countries there are ‘reverse’ gender gaps (with boys less likely to attend or complete primary school). Overall, gender gaps (where they exist) are modest in comparison to the gaps between rich and low-income countries.

When it comes to academic performance, girls often do as well as, or better than, boys in science and mathematics.

In primary schools, there are no gender differences in science achievement in more than half of the 47 countries where performance is measured (Figure 1). Girls score higher than boys in 26 percent of the countries. The difference in achievement is almost three-times higher when girls score more than boys compared to when boys score more than girls. Results for mathematics achievement are similar. There are no gender differences in about half of the countries with data, but boys score better than girls in 37 percent of the countries.

Figure 1: Primary-school girls perform as well as boys in science and mathematics

Source: TIMSS 2015 Assessment Frameworks. Data for 4th graders in 47 countries. Box plots show the first quartile, median and third quartile of the test scores. The whiskers correspond to the minimum and maximum scores. Outliers are represented by a dot.

Quality of Open Source Software: how many eyes are enough?

Michael M. Lokshin's picture

In 2004, my colleague Zurab Sajaia and I submitted a maximum likelihood routine to the Stata SSC archive. The program was quickly propelled by the Stata user community to the top 10 most downloaded Stata files; it is still in use now. While experimenting with similar algorithms to develop test procedures (five years after the program’s release), we uncovered an error in the routine. Hundreds, if not thousands, of econometricians had used our program and looked at our code, but no one raised any concerns.

Open Source Software (OSS) is quickly gaining popularity in the corporate world as a practical alternative to costly proprietary software. 78% of companies are now using OSS extensively and open source components are found in more than half of all proprietary software. The rationale is simple: OSS lowers development costs, decreases time to market, increases developer productivity, and accelerates innovation.

Competition and the rise of the machines: Should the AI industry be regulated?

Michael M. Lokshin's picture

A multinational conglomerate uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to gather intelligence about the news you peruse, social media activity, and shopping preferences. They choose the ads you passively consume on your newsfeed and throughout your social media accounts, your internet searches, and even the music you hear, creating an incrementally increasingly customized version of reality specifically for you. Your days are subtly influenced by marketers, behavioral scientists, and mathematicians armed with cloud supercomputers. All of this is done in the name of maximizing profit to influence what you’re thinking, buying, and whom you will be electing…

Sound familiar? Apocalyptic prognoses of the impact of AI on the future of human civilization have long been en vogue, but seem to be increasingly frequent topics of popular discussion. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Vint Cerf, Raymond Weil, together with a host of other commentators and—of course—all the Matrix and Terminator films, have expressed a spectrum of concerns about the world-ending implications of AI. They run the gamut from the convincingly possible (widespread unemployment[1]) to the increasingly plausible (varying degrees of mind control) to the outright cinematic (rampaging robots). François Chollet‏, the creator of a deep neural net platform, sees the potential for “mass population control via message targeting and propaganda bot armies.” Calls for study, restraint, and/or regulation typically follow these remonstrations.

Chart: High-Tech Exports on the Rise in South Asia

Erin Scronce's picture

 

In South Asia, high-tech exports comprise a much larger share of total manufactured exports today than they did in 1990. In fact, the percentage of high-tech exports more than doubled between 1990 and 2014, and have been trending upwards for the past 3 years. Aircraft, computers, and pharmaceuticals are all examples of high-tech exports, which rely on large outlays of research and development. As South Asia seeks to become more globally competitive, these industries can help propel the region's countries into middle-income levels.

Find more trade data from South Asia
Read the latest trade news and research from the World Bank Group 

DataDive Q&A with Data Ambassadors: Identifying Fraud and Corruption with Technology

Itir Sonuparlak's picture

This post is part of the Q&A Series with the Data Ambassadors from DataDive2013. You can also read an interview with the fraud and corruption data ambassadorsa recap of Data Dive 2013, and watch the presentations from the weekend.

Photo credit: Itir Sonuparlak

During DataDive 2013, each project had an assigned data ambassador, a leader to guide and direct the research and efforts of the teams. In the days following the DataDive, we spoke with two of the data ambassadors from the fraud and corruption related projects to learn more about their experiences. Read their responses below and join the conversation in our comments section.

  • Taimur Sajid develops financial models to asses risk for a financial firm and acted as a data ambassador during the DataDive.
  • Marc Maxson is an Innovation Consultant with Global Giving and brought his Heuristic Auditing Tool to the DataDive.

 

DataDive Q&A with Data Ambassadors: Tackling Poverty with Technology

Itir Sonuparlak's picture

This post is part of the Q&A Series with the Data Ambassadors from DataDive2013. You can also read an interview with the poverty data ambassadorsa recap of Data Dive 2013, and watch the presentations from the weekend.

 Carlos Teodoro Linares Carvalho

Data Ambassadors posing at the end of DataDive 2013. Photo Credit: Carlos Teodoro Linares Carvalho.

During DataDive 2013, each project had an assigned data ambassador, a leader to guide and direct the research and efforts of the teams. In the days following the DataDive, we spoke with four of the data ambassadors from the poverty projects to learn more about their experiences. Read their responses below and join the conversation in our comments section.

  • Monique Williams is an independent consultant and a statistician at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She led and represented the UNDP Resource Allocation team.
  • Nick McClellan is the web production editor for the New America Foundation and he represented the Night Illumination team.
  • Max Richman is an independent consultant who provides research and technology services to non-profits, foundations and governments focused on international development. He led the Website Scraping team.
  • Tom Levine works in data analysis and he represented the Arabic Tweets project.