Julie Kmec

University World News asked Julie Kmec, a professor of sociology at Washington State University in the United States, what factors were behind high female participation in science and research in predominantly Muslim countries.

“Studies indicate that this pattern emerges from a complex relationship between a country’s macro-cultural value systems regarding individualism and gender, the gender labelling of curricular and work fields, the organisational configuration of a country’s education system, and a country’s economic opportunity structures,” she explained.

“Overall, these countries may promote collectivism over individualism, gender label STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] fields as ‘masculine’ less-so than other countries, and their developing economies may shape choice.”

Kmec is also one of the principal investigators for the project on Women in Engineering in Predominantly Muslim Countries, which aims to identify mechanisms that motivate women to pursue engineering in Arab countries, to be used in America’s higher education and research system.

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