DataSheet1_Participation in Communities of Women Scientists in Central America: Implications From the Science Diplomacy Perspective.docx
The experience of building and participating in women scientists’ communities in Central America is a multi-layered topic worthy of study. Understanding the dynamics of these women’s groups, associations, and other forms of collective participation, could assist in shedding light on why women are typically under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) research in countries within this region. The objectives of this study are (i) to explore the experiences of participation in communities of women scientists in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama, and (ii) to systematize the challenges and opportunities derived from such activities. Additionally, this work elaborates on some best practices from the Science Diplomacy (SD) perspective, which could provide a helpful framework to encourage these types of collective participatory communities. The qualitative research methodology was based on the collection of primary data from semi-structured interviews and responses to an online survey sent out to Central American women scientists. The findings of this study revealed few cases of community building experiences among women scientists within the studied countries. Evidence also showed the emergence of shared patterns in terms of barriers and disincentives to participating in such communities. Meanwhile, data collected from the few existing community groups is used to identify successful incentives and motivations. The analysis of the collected data offered relevant implications for Science Diplomacy. Most respondents referred to the Organization of Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) as one of the main organizations that can impact and further Science Diplomacy. This organization promotes international engagement and networking among women scientists from developing countries across regions and this article shows how this has been used to foster women science community building in Central America. Exploring similar practices in-depth may offer opportunities to overcome traditional barriers and build further gender equality in science in Central America.