The sixth Gender Summit convened at The Plaza Hotel in Seoul to the theme of “Better Science and Technology for the Creative Economy: Enhancing Societal Impact through Gendered Innovations in Research, Development and Business.”
The international summit brings together scientists and gender experts from all over the world to discuss ways that science and technology can take a more inclusive approach to gender issues with the aim of improving the quality of research and innovation – a plus for everyone.
Yanghee Choi, Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning stressed in his Congratulatory Remarks that the “future is not something you arrive at; it is something you create.” Because of the many challenges that Korea (and much of the world) faces – including population decline – Minister Choi emphasized the need to “make the most of our limited resources by retaining and maximizing the talents of women.”
Indeed, Prof. Curt Rice, Rector [President], Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway, in an earlier press conference conceded that with population decline, there is the likelihood of a “general increased female workforce,” but that a smaller workforce wouldn’t necessarily allow more women in leadership positions.
The Gender Summits are a way for policymakers, industry leaders, scientists, and other experts to advance gender equality in leadership positions as well as work toward overall gender parity in the STEM fields. However, Prof. Rice explains, “Gender summits are not happening to say women deserve more rights. The focus is one how the work of society and science is improved when we have both genders represented. What is unfortunate is that senior male researchers fail to see this point. The agenda of the summit won’t fully succeed until men who care about raising the quality of their own research see this.”
Stanford Professor Londa Schiebinger also pointed out that discussions on gender aren’t solely for the purpose of women. One case in point is osteoporosis – an example where men were left out of diagnostic models, although men account for 1/3 of hip fractures. Still, for the most part, it’s a man’s world, she says, and “constantly retrofitting for women” is counterproductive and wasteful.
This summit is especially timely since, under President Park, Korea seeks to go in the direction of creative economy. “It won’t be very creative,” Elizabeth Pollitzer, co-founder and Director of Portia Ltd., noted, “if it’s only done by men, for men.”
Gender Summit 6 will run until August 28th.