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By Dr. Lilliam Álvarez, Member of the ICSU ROLAC Regional Committee.

In the Auditorium of the Civic Cultural Legislative Center of San Salvador, El Salvador, on March 15th and 16th, 2018, a transcendent meeting took place. It was entitled “Global Approach to the Gender Gap in the Natural Mathematical Sciences: How to Measure it and How to Reduce it?” The motivational questions were: Why Mathematics for development? Are young women motivated by Mathematics? Gender barriers in Mathematics, and  Why are there so few of us? The Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the International Council of Science (ICSU ROLAC) together with the Committee of Mathematical Women of the International Union of Mathematics (IMU-CWM), the Ministry of Education, the Vice Ministry of Science and Technology of El Salvador, and UNESCO, organized and financed this workshop, which focused on the problem of the gender gap in Mathematics and aimed to share “good practices”, define and propose concrete actions in the medium and long term to significantly change the landscape of Mathematics in our Region. 

The workshop had an impressive participation of 300 teachers of Mathematics at all levels such as future math teachers and undergraduates, post-graduates, and doctorate students. Most of them from teaching and mathematics didactics. They came from all over the Salvadoran provinces, some traveling daily up to three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoons. It was simply touching to hear the testimonies from the teachers and see the enthusiasm, goodwill and desire to do, to improve, and grow professionally in a healthy, respectful environment. They were questioning the experts, taking notes (and pictures!) noting tips and actions, such as give a pat and applaud girls who perform well in Mathematics and encourage them to choose this profession or to be science teachers, because their country needs them. There were some good lessons learned during the workshop, one of them being that no country can afford to waste 50% of the talents for science that is today in girls and boys in our schools in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

A good topic debated was that without science, there is no possible development, and one can’t have a critical mass of good teachers and researchers in Mathematics, which are vital for the sustainable economic-social advance. The teachers attended, with much expectation and willingness to cooperate, to hear five experts from the Region, from different scientific backgrounds: Dr. Zelmira May, from UNESCO of the Office of Science and Technology of Montevideo; Dr. Gabriela Araujo, a remarkable Mexican mathematician; Dr. Angela Camacho, an eminent Colombian physicist, Dr. Elizabeth Rincon an experienced Professor of Mathematics of the Dominican Republic and myself, a member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, and a member of the ICSU ROLAC Regional Committee . In the end, one of them expressed «I feel we are doing something transcendent». 

In the closing sessions, the Minister of Science and Technology of El Salvador, Dr. Erlinda Hándal, greeted and congratulated all the participants and showed a set of science kits with scientific experiments (many made with recyclable materials easy to assemble) with instructions on how to do them in all schools. There is a concrete action of a policy and a will to sow the scientific seed for the teachers of the future. The presentations of the workshop, as well as the rapporteurs and graphic record of the events, are available in ICSU-ROLAC Office Website: regions/rolac and on the IMU-CWM website http: // www. home 


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Forthcoming Events

July 3rd-6th, 2018 
ICSU General Assembly
Paris France

October 2018   
Disaster Risk Reduction Steering Committee Meeting
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October 22nd-24th, 2018 
Open Science Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean, CILAC 2018.

(Third Trimester of 2018) 
Meeting of Biodiversity and Work on Ancestral Knowledge
San Salvador El Salvador

November 2018 
FORIN Launch 
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