The world today is seeing more women graduate from tertiary education than ever before. There has been increasing female employment but little improvement in the wage gap between men and women. Research shows that it will take 115 years for women to have the same career prospects as men, a pace that is too slow and does not address the real needs of modern society.
Subconscious bias is a major issue, as women continue to be viewed, and treated, as less effective workers than men. Culture also plays an important role, as places of higher education, employment and the home continue to reflect a world created by men for men.
The United Nations has targeted gender equality as one of its priorities in the Sustainable Development Goals. This requires a shift in the way women are prepared for the realities of the labour market and in the way work and workers are valued.
The 2019 Prowibo conference on Women, Development and Higher Education, in partnership with Srinakarinwirot University and LSEIdeas, was held July 2 in Bangkok. The conference brought together stakeholders from education, NGOs, businesses and policymakers to address the difficult questions of reaching gender parity and the role that higher education has to play in this process.
The dialogue took a solution-oriented approach. Each session produced practical solutions with clear action points. Outputs will include a written report available to the public through our websites, and an edited volume that puts together the different aspects of the complex and fascinating challenge of shaping higher education for the future.
Each panel consisted of three speakers presenting for approximately 5-10 minutes each, with a moderator, followed by an open floor where the audience were active participants. The conference also included breakout sessions where participants debated matters openly.