The scientific work of women is often viewed through a national or regional lens, but given the growing worldwide connectivity of most, if not all, scientific disciplines, there needs to be recognition of how different social, political, and economic mechanisms impact women's participation in the global scientific enterprise. Although these complex sociocultural factors often operate in different ways in various countries and regions, studies within and across nations consistently show inverse correlations between levels in the scientific and technical career hierarchy and the number of women in science: the higher the positions, the fewer the number of women. Understanding these complex patterns requires interdisciplinary and international approaches. In April 2011, a committee overseen by the National Academies' standing Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM) convened a workshop entitled, "Blueprint for the Future: Framing the Issues of Women in Science in a Global Context" in Washington, D.C.
CWSEM's goals are to coordinate, monitor, and advocate action to increase the participation of women in science, engineering, and medicine. The scope of the workshop was limited to women's participation in three scientific disciplines: chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and statistics. The workshop presentations came from a group of scholars and professionals who have been working for several years on documenting, analyzing, and interpreting the status of women in selected technical fields around the world. Examination of the three disciplines-chemistry, computer science, and mathematics and statistics-can be considered a first foray into collecting and analyzing information that can be replicated in other fields.
The complexity of studying science internationally cannot be underestimated, and the presentations demonstrate some of the evidentiary and epistemological challenges that scholars and professionals face in collecting and analyzing data from many different countries and regions. Blueprint for the Future: Framing the Issues of Women in Science in a Global Context summarizes the workshop presentations, which provided an opportunity for dialogue about the issues that the authors have been pursuing in their work to date.