THE INCLUSION OF
WOMEN IN STEM
IN KUWAIT AND
THE UNITED STATES
PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP
Dalal Najib and Paula Tarnapol Whitacre, Rapporteurs
Policy and Global Affairs
in Collaboration with
The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001
This activity was supported by contracts between the National Academy of Sciences and The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (Agreement Number: 10004242). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-67831-5
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-67831-5
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25820
Additional copies of this publication are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.
Copyright 2020 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. The Inclusion of Women in STEM in Kuwait and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25820.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president.
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.
The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.
Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.
The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences
The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), a private nonprofit organization, was established in 1976 by an Amiri Decree under the direction of the late Amir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. His enduring vision has been to create and develop a thriving culture of science, technology, and innovation (STI) for a sustainable Kuwait. KFAS’s charter represents the commitment by local shareholding companies to contribute 5 percent of their annual net profits to fund the foundation, which over the years has been reduced to 1 percent.
The foundation’s strategic objectives have focused on promoting and harvesting STI for four main stakeholders: society at large (especially the youth), the research community, the private sector, and the government. Programs and initiatives have been developed to promote and advocate STI through the dissemination of knowledge via several strategic channels, including scientific publications and sponsoring and organizing community-based events. Through collaborations with local and international institutions, efforts are also aimed at raising the quality of research and driving innovative solutions for key areas of national priority. Furthermore, KFAS continues to work on enhancing the development of a competent private sector by investing in its human capital and increasing investment in STI. A key part of the foundation’s new strategic plan is dedicated to supporting strategic partnerships with international centers of excellence, in order to foster and promote the advancement of its strategic objectives and the national innovation ecosystem.
KFAS will continue to advance its strategy, acting as a catalyst for the integration of a rich scientific culture into the fabric of Kuwaiti society and enabling a sustainable, knowledgeable, and robust economy.
Learn more about the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences at www.kfas.com.
Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.
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COMMITTEE ON PROMISING PRACTICES FOR IMPROVING THE INCLUSION OF WOMEN IN SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND MEDICINE: LESSONS FROM KUWAIT AND THE UNITED STATES—WORKSHOP SERIES
Hayfaa Almudhaf (Co-chair), Senior Advisor (ret.), Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
Sapna Cheryan (Co-chair), Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Washington Hala AlEssa, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Practice, Kuwait University
Maria Charles, Professor of Sociology, Director of the Broom Center for Demography, University of California, Santa Barbara
Ameenah Farhan, Chair, Department of Physics, Kuwait University
Sonya Smith, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Howard University
Dalal Najib, Director, Science and Engineering Capacity Development, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies)
Layla Al-Musawi, Program Manager, Scientific Culture Directorate, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences
Tom Rudin, Director, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the National Academies
Irene Ngun, Associate Program Officer, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the National Academies
Marquita Whiting, Senior Program Assistant, Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the National Academies
Paula Tarnapol Whitacre, Consultant Writer
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Preface and Acknowledgments
The United States and Kuwait are societies with distinct cultural and social traditions. Each has striking differences in the gender composition of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Because the role and inclusion of women in STEM are governed by evolving sociocultural family and gender norms as well as educational structures and labor markets, it is important to examine this topic from a comparative U.S. and Kuwait perspective.
This volume is the outcome of the first of two joint workshops by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies), bringing together more than 40 leaders in academia, government, and industry to discuss promising practices from Kuwait and the United States for improving gender equality in STEM. Topics included challenges and barriers facing women in STEM; recruitment, retention, and career development of women in STEM; curriculum and educational structure; gender stereotypes and gendered family roles; and mentoring and organizational change.
On October 28–29, 2019, the National Academies hosted the first workshop of this series in Washington, D.C. The workshop focused on challenges and barriers facing women in STEM; evidence of effective programs, practices, and models in both countries for recruiting women in science, engineering, and medicine; and curricula structure, and how it affects the attrition of women in STEM in the United States, Kuwait, and
the broader Arab world. The workshop was made possible thanks to financial support from KFAS. We would like to extend our appreciation to Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, KFAS director general, and to Dr. Faiza Al-Kharafi, member of the KFAS board of directors, for their commitment to this effort.
We wish to extend sincere thanks to all the members of the planning committee for their contributions in scoping, developing, and carrying out this project.
This Proceedings of a Workshop was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies in making each published proceedings as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this proceedings:
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the proceedings nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this proceedings was overseen by Marilyn Baker, the National Academies. She was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this proceedings was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the rapporteurs and the National Academies.