We are performing preliminary desk research to understand the present and future demographics, current statistics on education and employment. From 2018 to 2050, our population will increase from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion. More than half of the anticipated growth in global population between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa with the addition of 1.3 billion habitants. Asia will be the second largest contributors with the addition of just over 750 million people by 2050.

The average fertility rate (number of children per women) for the world for 2015-2020 is 2.47 which will reduce to 2.24 by 2050. Currently, Africa has an average fertility rate as 4.43 which will reduce to 3.09 by 2050, for Asia, it will go from 2.15 to 1.90. By 2050, with reduced fertility rate, we will observe a decrease in numerical population in most of the regions, but still few countries like Niger (from 7.15 to 4.19), Somalia (from 6.12 to 3.83), Congo (from 5.96 to 3.38) will be major contributors.

In 2018, there are an estimated 1.24 billion females aged between 0-19, and 2.54 billion women aged 20 and older. By 2030, these population groups are expected to grow to about 1.30 billion and 2.94 billion, respectively. With the total women population of 3.78 billion, around 0.5 billion women are illiterate with a majority of women with almost all of them living in developing regions.

Girls out of school

There are still about 262 million i.e. one of out of every five children, adolescents and youth between the ages of 6 and 17 out of school. Girls still face barriers to education in most regions, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where girls of every age are more likely to be excluded from education than boys. For every 100 boys of primary age out of school, 121 girls are denied the right to education there.

Currently, more women complete the tertiary education than men in four out of five countries. Globally, women outnumber men at a level of Bachelor’s degree as well as Master’s degree graduate. But the women are more likely to graduate from Education, Humanity and Arts, Social Sciences and Health and Welfare whereas for men, the preferred fields are Information and Communication and Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction. Men account for more than three-fifths of tertiary graduates from Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction. While women lag behind men in completing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees, in some countries like Albania, Algeria and Tunisia, women are more likely to graduate with a STEM degree. The average women percentage out of total STEM graduates across 109 countries is 31.5%, countries like USA (22.9%), UK (19.3%), Australia (19.1%), France (16.7%), Switzerland (11.2%) lie below the average. Example of a few highly performing countries are Jordan (60.3%), Tunisia (55.5%), Thailand (50.6%).6

Women in STEM: Professionals

The women’s transition into STEM career is dependent on factors like female identity, family obligations, the working environment and conditions. Around the world, men tend to participate in labour markets more frequently than women. However, there are huge differences across the countries. The female-to-male ratio (%) in labour force participation is estimated by International Labour Organization (ILO) every year to compare across countries. Countries like Mozambique (110.6), Burundi (103.6), Rwanda (99.7), Dem Rep of Congo (97.1) has the highest ratio (i.e. there is gender parity in labour force participation or even a higher share of women participating in the labour market than men). But in countries like Jordan (21.9), Algeria (22.6), Morocco (33.7), Tunisia (34.4) and India (34.5), the ratio is among the lowest. The average for European Union is around 57.3. In summary, female labour force participation is highest in some of the poorest countries in the world.

The STEM-related workforce statistics is not widely available, but some data is accessible for developed nations. The percentage women are employed in STEM in USA is around 24% and in the UK it is close to 23%. In Australia, women accounted for less than one in eight (12.4%) engineers in Australia’s labor force in 2016. Countries in South-East Asia like Cambodia, Indonesia and Nepal still struggle with inspiring women to step into STEM fields, whereas countries like Republic of Korea and Malaysia, more and more women work in the computer industry. In Malaysia, around 50-60 % of employees in computer industry are women with many working in management roles. We are still in process of analysing the raw data from ILO regarding global statistics for STEM workforce.

Some published articles claim that as high as 75% of jobs will require STEM skills of some kind in the next decade.13 Putting these pieces together, it is evident that we need more women graduating and working in STEM fields. Women and girls deserve an equal place to help program and engineer the future of STEM and also, the world.



WPP 2017 Revision, Key Findings, p. 3.
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, custom data acquired via website.
UNESCO UIS Education Indicator
Cracking the code, published by UNESCO, 2017
Labor force participation rate, female (% of female population ages 15-64) (modeled ILO estimate). DataBank, The World Bank
Ryan Noonan, Women in STEM: 2017 Update (US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Office of the Chief Economist, November 13, 2017).
Annual Report Wise Year April 2017- March 2018, Wise Campaign UK
Australian Government, Office of the Chief Scientist, Australia’s STEM Workforce: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (March 2016): p. 127, 137.
A complex formula, girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Asia, 2015, published by UNESCO, pg 22-25
See, e.g., Australian Government, Science, ‘STEM Skills Help Every Career’ (27.09.2016), available at https://science.gov.au/scienceGov/news/Pages/STEM-skills-help-every-career-27-Sep-2016.aspx (accessed 31.08.2018).