Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan to host conference on role of women in science

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan will hold Asia’s first international conference to highlight the role of women in scientific research on Sunday, the National Yangming University said yesterday.

Arthur Chen (陳宜民), director of the university’s Center of International Affairs, said the National Science Council, which entrusted the project to the university, hopes to encourage more young women to become scientists.

“In Taiwan, there are still more men than women doing scientific research,” Chen said. “Many girls may have been discouraged by their families from choosing science as their major since they were little, even if they are interested in science.

This is because the society [traditionally] still believes girls should major in subjects such as literature,” he said.

Chen said the school had encouraged high schools around the nation to recommend distinguished female students to participate in the conference, where they will enjoy the opportunity to talk to female scientists from Taiwan and abroad.

The conference will be held between Sunday and Tuesday at the university, with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) scheduled to appear on Monday.

The agenda of the conference showed that Evelyn Fox Keller, a professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will deliver a keynote speech titled “My Life as a Woman Scientist, a Feminist Theorist and a Historian and Philosopher of Science” on Monday.

Eleven foreign scholars from eight countries will also attend the occasion, Chen said.

Jane Tsai (蔡素珍), a professor of applied chemistry at Providence University, said it had become a world trend for governments to emphasize the importance of scientific education for women. She said the US had promoted the trend for six to seven decades, but Taiwan did not catch up until seven or eight years ago.

Nevertheless, most of the efforts to promote women’s participation in scientific research in Taiwan were made by civil groups instead of the government, she said.

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