Innovation and Development for the Americas



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Eighth LACCEI Latin American and Caribbean Conference for Engineering and Technology (LACCEI’2010)

Innovation and Development for the Americas”, June 1-4, 2010, Arequipa, Perú.



The Inter-American Year of Women: LACCEI Recognizing Successes and Challenges in Gender Equity and Equality in

Engineering Education in the Americas
María M. Larrondo Petrie, PhD

Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA



petrie@fau.edu
Marta Beltrán Martínez

Organization of American States, Office of Science, Technology and Innovation, Washington DC, USA, mbeltranmartinez@oas.org



ABSTRACT
The year 2010 was proclaimed ¨The InterAmerican Year of Women¨ (OAS, 2009) by the Organization of American States to especially commemorate the 35th anniversary of the first United Nations’ World Conference on Women during the International Women’s Year, the 15th anniversary of the last United Nations’ World Conference on Women celebrated in Beijing in 1995, and the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality. The goal of the proclamation is to broadly mobilize throughout the Americas an evaluation of successes and challenges in the defense of women’s human rights and gender equity and equality, and to strengthen public sensitivity to gender issues. To show solidarity with this proclamation, the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institution (LACCEI) at their 2010 conference will celebrate the accomplishments of Inter-American women engineers by recognizing distinguished female engineering educators, will identify resources available to recruit and retain women in engineering, and will discuss the challenges faced in the Americas to attain gender equity and equality in this field. This paper provides a summary of the resources, successes and challenges presented in the LACCEI 2010 conference.
Keywords: women, gender equity, advancement for women, engineering education

1. Introduction

The Executive Committee of the International Commission of Women (CIM, in Spanish: Comisión Nacional de Mujeres) of the Organization of Americas States (OAS) proposed in 2007 that 2010 be proclaimed by the OAS as the Inter-American Year of Women (OAS, 2009) to broadly mobilize throughout the Americas an evaluation of successes and challenges in the defense of women’s human rights and gender equity and equality, and to strengthen public sensitivity to gender issues.. There have been four United Nations’ World Conferences on Women. The first, during the International Year of Women in 1975 held in Mexico City (UN, 1976), the second in Copenhagen in 1980 (UN, 1980), the third in Nairobi in 1985 (UN, 1986), and the fourth held in Beijing in 1995 (UN, 1996).


The United Nations convened the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace in Beijing, China on September 4-5, 1995. The delegates (189 Governments, 5000 representatives from 2,100 non-governmental organizations) approved a Platform for Action aimed at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women, documented in: The Beijing Declaration5 and the Beijing Platform for Action (UN, 1996). The conference signaled a clear commitment to international norms and standards of equality between men and women. It found that the issues were global and universal, and that inequality and discrimination against women both in public and private life throughout the world are perpetuated by deeply entrenched attitudes and practices, and that changes in values, attitudes and priorities were required at all levels. To this end, governments, the international community and civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, were called upon to take strategic action in 12 critical areas of concern (UN, 1996) shown in Table 1.

Five years after the Beijing Conference, there was an Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole formed as part of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UN, 2000). The United Nations Economic and Social Council Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), formed since 1946, issues reports dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women, and has published annual, five and ten year reviews and appraisals of the implementation of the Beijing outcomes. This year there will be a 15 year national level, regional level and global review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action (UN-CSW, 2010). Women around the world and not-for-profit organizations have organized a Call to Action in support of a United Nations sponsored Fifth World Conference on Women (5WCW, 2010). It does not appear that the UN will organize a World Conference in 2010, but the Beijing+15 CSW54 meeting will take place the 1-12 March 2010 in New York (UN-CSW, 2010; 5WCW, 2010)


In the Beijing Platform for Action, one of the goals pertinent to LACCEI members was

“Diversify vocational and technical training and improve access for and retention of girls and women in education and vocational training in such fields a science, mathematics, engineering, environmental sciences, and technology, information technology and high technology, as well as management training. Actions to be taken: Strategic objective L.4: Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training. Action 279 by Governments: Ensure universal and equal access to and completion of primary education by all children and eliminate the existing gap between girls and boys, as stipulated in article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; similarly, ensure equal access to secondary education by the year 2005 and equal access to higher education, including vocational and technical education, for all girls and boys, including the disadvantaged and gifted.” (UN, 1996)



To show solidarity with the OAS proclamation of 2010 as the Inter-American Year of Women (OAS, 2009), and in an effort to advance the issues that fall within its mission, the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institution (LACCEI) at their 2010 conference will celebrate the accomplishments of Inter-American women engineers by recognizing distinguished female engineering educators, will identify resources available to recruit and retain women in engineering, and will discuss the challenges faced in the Americas to attain gender equity and equality in this field. This paper provides a summary of the resources, successes and challenges presented at the LACCEI 2010 conference.
2. Statistics on Women Issues
T