Supporting indigenous women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers in Mexico and Central America
Over the last 15 years there have been a number of efforts by government, civil society, private sector, and international organizations to address challenges faced by indigenous people, and in some cases women in particular, in Mexico’s higher education system. This includes the creation of 12 intercultural universities in locations with a high concentration of indigenous people, and several scholarship programs that support students up to the PhD level. These programs, partly funded by Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACYT) (National council of science and technology), have considerably improved the participation of indigenous people in the country’s education system. However, there continue to be important challenges in advancement beyond the PhD level, participation of scientists in community development, and the availability of mentors among indigenous and female scientists.
This project, in partnership with CONACYT, will support indigenous women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the postdoctoral level. These fields often present particular barriers for women and other excluded groups, yet postdoctoral work represents a key step in young scientists becoming research leaders. The project will be led by the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS) (Centre for research and higher education in social anthropology) and will be centred on up to 20 postdoctoral fellows in Mexico. In addition to regular salary stipends, CIESAS will provide and coordinate support for these fellows through funds to support high-quality research; professional development and networking opportunities, namely through annual discussion fora; and support for the postdoctoral fellows to engage with indigenous communities and students through innovative research and training projects. The project will also include a research component, led by CIESAS, which aims to better understand the social and structural barriers faced by indigenous women pursuing careers in STEM in Mexico and Guatemala.