United Nations Resources

Women in STEM: Mind the Gap. Watch the panel presentation delivered at the Sixty-Sixth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women March 18, 2022

Watch Now – Women in STEM: Mind the Gap

Full Program below

Women in STEM Mind the Gap 2022 2

Women in STEM: Mind the Gap1

Presented at the CSW66 Forum
18 March 2022, 8:00-9:30am (EST, NY time), 13:00-14:30 (CET, Geneva)

Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations since a large body of evidence now demonstrates the positive links between gender equality as a fundamental human right and women’s participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics, Engineering) which improves efficiency in many sectors.

In spite of this, gender imbalance persists worldwide in STEM and ways of bridging this gap need to be understood and implemented. Some key points that have been emphasised is that encouragement of girls should start with the involvement of family in setting the right environment for both sons and daughters as well as the great need for women role models, improved recognition (in images and media) and perception of women in these fields as well as the necessity for mentorship.

All avenues need to be exploited to minimise and bridge the gap if women are to contribute and profit equally from the potential of science and technology and participate meaningfully in a global knowledge society, to keep families out of poverty and provide educational benefits to the next generation.

STEM is necessary to fight diseases, fight and respond to the challenges of global health, environment and climate change. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ICT technologies have come into their own by allowing communication, education and collaboration both remotely and globally, not only giving voice to all but also actively participating in discussion such as this panel and allowing all perspectives to be heard and outlining challenges as well as proposing solutions which are effective locally. Showing clearly both the empowering role of information and communication technologies (ICT) but also the negative side of how it can be disempowering if you lack the know-how and the tools and infrastructure. Once again women have been much more affected and impacted.

Society would benefit on multiple levels if we had more women in STEM since they can not only improve the world’s economy but also give science a perspective that men do not have. Research shows that companies in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profits.

There are several reasons for the lack of women in STEM.  Multiple sociocultural barriers prevent many high school girls from fully participating in STEM and ICT career tracks leading to careers. These barriers include limited exposure to female STEM role models; stereotypes around girls’ lack of STEM ability and interest; commonly held misperceptions about STEM fields being “unfeminine;” low STEM self-esteem (negative or neutral STEM identity); lack of knowledge and/or misunderstanding of STEM fields; and a disproportionate (and thus intimidating and/or unwelcoming) number of male students and educators in STEM and ICT classes. These barriers need to be addressed to encourage more women to enter into in STEM to address global challenges.


Objective: Our STEM panel will highlight the empowering role of information and communication technologies (ICT) and the importance of girls and women having the knowledge, tools and infrastructure they need to be successful in STEM careers. Society would benefit on multiple levels if we had more women in STEM to improve the world’s economy and their involvement gives science a diverse perspective that men do not have.

Panel Moderators: Afton Beutler-Reed (AHP &MLP) and Manjit Dosanjh (ICEC)
Rapporteur: Petya Georgieva (SEEIIST)

Afton Beutler-Reed is the International Vice President Mothers Legacy Project http://motherslegacy.org/ and Director – GEO program Global Education Opportunity Program.   Since 2003, she has been a UN representative in New York and Geneva. Seeing the unique international and cultural environment in Geneva, Afton created and directs the Global Education Opportunity (GEO) program to bring students to attend UN meetings and international events; do research and contribute to global initiatives as well as participate in grassroots community projects

Petya Georgieva is a Communication Officer for South East European International Institute for Sustainable Technologies (SEEIIST) and has worked closely with Manjit for many years on ENLIGHT Highlights. She is a Digital Communications Content Creator, Website and data platform manager, Conference and workshop planning expert. 


Katherine Coffman
Piramal Associate Professor of Business Administration
Harvard Business School
“Gender Gaps in Who Puts Themselves Forward – And How to Close Them”

Professor Coffman studies the sources of gender gaps in economically-important contexts. Her work focuses on the role of beliefs: how do stereotypes bias the beliefs that individuals hold about themselves (and others), and how do these biased beliefs shape decision-making? Through careful experimental design, she aims to isolate the forces that underlie important field phenomena, to quantify the impact of these forces on the efficiency and equity of outcomes, and to test a variety of potential policy interventions. Her work provides insights for leaders and policymakers looking to design more equitable, and efficient, processes for evaluating, recruiting, and promoting talent. She holds a PhD in economics from Harvard University and a BA in mathematics and economics from Williams College.

Manjit Dosanjh: is the Project Leader for STELLA (Smart Technologies to Extend Lives with Linear Accelerators), honorary CERN Staff, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland and Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford. She is also actively involved in helping non-profit science and technology education gender related organisations in Geneva and board of director for ICEC (International Cancer Expert Corps).

ICEC: The International Cancer Expert Corps (ICEC), an  ECOSOC accredited NGO that  strives to reduce mortality and improve the quality of life for people with cancer in low- and middle-income countries, as well as the indigenous and geographically underserved populations in upper-income countries and regions worldwide. The ICEC addresses this mission through a mentoring network of cancer professionals who work with local and regional in-country groups to develop and sustain expertise for better cancer care and by addressing technology and other barriers to access to care.

Eva Gousiou (CERN WIT), Electronics Engineer, Beams Department, CERN Eva is an electronics engineer and joined CERN in 2005, where she has held several positions as electronics developer, accelerator coordinator and facilitator in collaboration initiatives across departments. She is an open hardware enthusiast. Eva is part of the CERN WIT community since 2019 and is an active contributor to advocacy and networking activities.
egousiou@cern.ch | @evoulitas

WIT (Women in Technology)
CERN is the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland. It hosts 15’000 people, most of whom are physicists and engineers. The Women in Technology (WIT) at CERN is a grass-roots community with more than 500 members that started in 2016 with the aim of raising awareness on gender issues in the Organisation, connecting people interested in equal opportunities, providing mentoring and support and showcasing female role models in outreach activities, to inspire current and future generations. https://wit-hub.web.cern.ch

Laetitia van Haren: Cultural Anthropologist, President-founder of SAHFA – Smart Access to Health for All- through customised mobile communication technologies. Inventor-promotor of JamboMama! – smartly connecting mothers to health providers. Implementation and App development activities directed at women and rural communities in Tanzania and Congo.

Safe Motherhood: This is a fundamental women’s right since childbearing needs to be safer especially in remote areas far from modern medical facilities. Expectant mothers need to be empowered with the knowledge and means to manage her health and well-being during pregnancy. With this innovative smartphone application- a digital technology STEM solution, the process of birth can be improved and save the lives of mothers.

Rita Karl is the Senior Managing Senior Director of the STEM Media & Education Department at Twin Cities PBS and Executive Producer of the PBS award-winning SciGirls program, drawing on cutting-edge research on what engages girls in STEM. In 2019 and 2020, SciGirls was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Educational Series and in 2021 won a Gracie Award for Best Family TV show – National. Ms. Karl previously served as Director of Education at the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, as Director of USAID’s award-winning Educational Technology in Schools in Egypt, and the NASA award-winning Texas Aerospace Scholars engineering education program for high school students, now in its 20th year.

About SciGirls: SciGirls has a robust presence on PBSKids.org with STEM-themed games and videos for children. Through its national outreach program, SciGirls CONNECT, SciGirls Trainers have trained 5,300 STEM educators in the U.S. in gender equitable and culturally responsive instructional strategies. Two new seasons SciGirls in the National Parks and SciGirls in Space are in production with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. A new NSF grant, Black SciGirls is studying how educators who use anti-racist practices and Black women role models to engage more Black girls in STEM.

SciGirlsConnect.org  |  pbskids.org/SciGirls  |  pbslearningmedia.org/SciGirls

Facebook: @scigirlstv  |  Twitter: @scigirls   |  Instagram: @scigirls

Disparities in Cancer Care for Women: An Urgent Global Need. A panel presentation to be given at the Committee for the Status of Women Forum, Recorded Presentation – March 16, 2022

Watch the recorded presentation at this link



Disparities in Cancer Care for Women: An Urgent Global Need


Disparities in cancer care 2022

Recorded for the CSW66 Forum,
16 March 2022, 8:00-9:30am (EDT time)

Panel Moderator: Donna O’Brien, ICEC, Strategic Visions in Healthcare, New York

Manjit Dosanjh, ICEC, University of Oxford and CERN
Silvia Formenti, Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York
Surbhi Grover, University of Pennsylvania and Gynaecological cancer clinic director and Oncology Consultant at Princess Marina Hospital, Gaborone, Botswana
Daniel Petereit, Monument Health Cancer Care Institute in Rapid City, South Dakota, and Director of Disparity Research at the Avera Cancer Care Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Director of American Indian “Walking Forward” Program
Rohini Batia, Johns Hopkins, PGY-3 in Radiation Oncology

When it is detected early and treated effectively, cervical cancer—the fourth most common cancer in women—is one of the most highly curable cancers. In the United States (U.S.), the rate of infection and death from cervical cancer has decreased significantly in the past 40 years, due to increased screening, including for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes the cancer; the HPV vaccine; and access to radiation therapy—which is the foundation for curative treatment for advanced cancers.

In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where access to radiation therapy is scarce or non-existent, the story is starkly different. For a young woman in Tanzania or Ethiopia, for example, a diagnosis of cervical cancer is likely to be a death sentence. Left untreated, she will suffer a long and painful illness. She can lose bladder and bowel function and be ostracized from her family and community—sent away to die alone.

The impact of her death is devastating in other ways: since cervical cancer is most often diagnosed in women under 50, children of these women are often left as orphans and neglected resulting in additional needless suffering and deaths. In LMICs, successfully treated breast cancer also depends on the availability of radiation therapy. The BBC reported last summer from Zimbabwe on 44-year-old Tendayi, who began a course of radiation therapy after undergoing breast-conserving surgery and chemotherapy for stage III breast cancer. When the radiation therapy machine broke down, she was told the only way it could be fixed was to fly in an engineer from South Africa which can take months. Without timely radiation treatment, her oncologist told her that she should start thinking about having a mastectomy as her only remaining option.

Unfortunately, Tendayi’s story is all too common among women in LMICs where radiation therapy technology breakdowns and long servicing delays are the norm or where it is not available at all. The lack of access to cancer care contributes to staggering outcomes, with nine of 10 cervical cancer deaths and seven of 10 breast cancer deaths occurring in LMICs. Overall, LMICs bear the burden of 70 percent of cancer deaths.

With more than 18 million new diagnoses of cancer worldwide in 2018 and more than nine million cancer deaths, and with new cancer cases expected to reach 27 million by 2040, the need to improve access to treatment, especially radiation therapy, that can extend and save millions of lives has never been more critical.

Donna O’Brien, MHA
Donna O’Brien is President of Strategic Visions in Healthcare, LLC, a healthcare consulting firm specializing in healthcare strategy, population health, cancer program and translational research program expansion, and facilitation of strategic partnerships. Building upon her extensive healthcare management experience she launched this firm in 2005.  Strategic Visions has clients across the U.S. including health systems, academic medical centers, research institutes, and government. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Cancer Expert Corps.

Manjit Dosanjh, PhD
Dr Dosanjh has had a long career at CERN where she served as Director of Medical Applications and played a key role in launching the ENLIGHT (European Network for Light Ion Hadron Therapy). She has a PhD in Biology is on the faculty of the University of Oxford and she has served as a mentor and advisor for many students from across the globe.  Her work has included many initiatives to expand access to care for those in Low Middle-Income Countries and for advancing career opportunities for women in science. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Cancer Expert Corps and project leader of STELLA.

Silvia Formenti, MD
Dr Formenti is the Chair of Radiation Oncology at Weill Cornell Medical College/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She is a recognized leader in breast cancer research and her groundbreaking work has transformed the paradigm in radiation biology, demonstrating the efficacy of combining radiotherapy with immunotherapy to control cancer cell growth in solid tumors.   She has been a champion of efforts to improve access to care for underserved populations and her research includes studying the impact of cancer in women in LMICs on families. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Cancer Expert Corps.

Surbhi Grover, MD, MPH
Dr Grover is a Radiation Oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center.  Her research interests include racial and ethnic disparities in cancer care and outcomes, HIV-related malignancies, implementation and up-scaling of prevention and treatment programs in low resource settings.  Since 2011 she has been engaged with the UPENN Botswana partnership and is currently serving as Gynaecological cancer clinic director and Oncology Consultant at the Princess Marina Hospital in Botswana.

Daniel Petereit, MD, FASTRO
Dr Petereit is a Radiation Oncologist at Monument Health in Rapid City South Dakota. He is the founding Director of the NCI-funding “Walking Forward” Program in South Dakota which serves the American Indian population on reservations in South Dakota. He has served as President of the American Brachytherapy Society and championed global health programs. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Cancer Expert Corps.

Rohini Batia, MD
Rohini is currently a PGY-3 resident in Radiation Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. She is interested in working to mitigate disparities in access to quality oncologic care in resource-limited settings. She graduated with a degree in Epidemiology from the University of Rochester and was a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in Delhi where she investigated predictors of tobacco use among women. She has worked with Dr. Surbhi Grover since 2015 on a variety of projects, including quantifying delays along the patient care continuum in oncology. She has worked with the multidisciplinary women’s clinic in Gaborone helping to pilot test a new smartphone application and refine clinic workflow and is currently working on understanding the uptake of hypofractionationed radiation therapy in low resource settings.

Surveying the Challenges to Improve Linear Accelerator-based Radiation Therapy in Africa: a Unique Collaborative Platform of All 28 African Countries Offering Such Treatment

Radiation therapy is a critical component for curative and palliative treatment of cancer and is used in more than half of all patients with cancer. Yet there is a global shortage of access to this treatment, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there is a shortage of technical staff as well as equipment. Linear accelerators (LINACs) offer state-of-the-art treatment, but this technology is expensive to acquire, operate, and service, especially for low- and middle-income countries(LMICs), and often their harsh environment negatively affects the performance of LINACs, causing downtime.

A global initiative was launched in 2016 by ICEC and CERN to address the technology and system barriers to providing radiation therapy in LMICs through the development of a novel LINAC-based radiation therapy system designed for their challenging environments. As the LINAC prototype design phase progressed, it was recognized that additional information was needed from LMICs on the performance of LINAC components, on variables that may influence machine performance and their association, if any, with equipment downtime. Thus, a survey was developed to collect these data from all countries in Africa that have LINAC-based radiation therapy facilities. In order to understand the extent to which these performance factors are the same or different in high-income countries, facilities in Canada, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA were invited to participate in the survey, as was Jordan, a middle-income country. Throughout this process, LMIC representatives have provided input on technology challenges in their respective countries. Read more…

Research-Driven Radiation Oncology: A Narrative on the Ongoing Legacy of Henry S. Kaplan

In this rapidly evolving time of precision medicine and scientifically based cancer care, how radiation oncology became a strong research-based scientific discipline in the United States after its separation from diagnostic radiology might be lost. The importance of generational mentorship, “family trees,” and interpersonal relationships can be difficult or impossible to trace absent personal narrative recollections of those involved. Henry S. Kaplan is a central figure and the focal point for 3 generations of research-based academic department chairs. This report establishes a first draft of a living record of the radiation oncology history of the Kaplan legacy to serve as an example of how knowledge networks grow and flourish and as an impetus for others to trace the legacy of other radiation oncology academic “trees.” Read the full article…
Published by Elsevier Inc.


Achieving flexible competence: bridging the investment dichotomy between infectious diseases and cancer

Today’s global health challenges in underserved communities include the growing burden of cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs); infectious diseases (IDs) with epidemic and pandemic potential such as COVID-19; and health effects from catastrophic ‘all hazards’ disasters including natural, industrial or terrorist incidents. Healthcare disparities in low-income and middle-income countries and in some rural areas in developed countries make it a challenge to mitigate these health, socioeconomic and political consequences on our globalised society. As with IDs, cancer requires rapid intervention and its effective medical management and prevention encompasses the other major NCDs. Furthermore, the technology and clinical capability for cancer care enables management of NCDs and IDs. Global health initiatives that call for action to address IDs and cancer often focus on each problem separately, or consider cancer care only a downstream investment to primary care, missing opportunities to leverage investments that could support broader capacity-building. From our experience in health disparities, disaster preparedness, government policy and healthcare systems we have initiated an approach we call flex-competence which emphasises a systems approach from the outset of program building that integrates investment among IDs, cancer, NCDs and disaster preparedness to improve overall healthcare for the local community. This approach builds on trusted partnerships, multi-level strategies and a healthcare infrastructure providing surge capacities to more rapidly respond to and manage a wide range of changing public health threats. Read the article…


Article: Coleman CN, Mansoura MK, Marinissen MJ, et al. Achieving flexible competence: bridging the investment dichotomy between infectious diseases and cancer. BMJ Global Health 2020;5:e003252. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh-2020-003252

Capturing Acquired Wisdom, Enabling Healthful Aging, and Building Multinational Partnerships Through Senior Global Health Mentorship

Capturing the acquired wisdom and experience of mentors in global health offers a capstone for their careers and provides a purposeful healthspan for these professionals to continue to be engaged in meaningful work while leveraging their expertise to solve challenging health care problems. This article addresses such opportunities available for individuals in the latter part of their careers including postretirement done either as a continuation of their role as career-long mentors or as a new challenge to be met with their lifelong experience. The expanding and branching tree of mentors to mentees enables a career path in global health and geometric growth to fill in the current enormous capacity gap.  Read the full article…


The number of people per radiotherapy machine per African country

Designing new radiotherapy technologies to treat cancer in low and middle-income countries

June 11, 2020

Innovative Technologies towards building Affordable and equitable global Radiotherapy capacity (ITAR)

A new project, “Innovative Technologies towards building Affordable and equitable global Radiotherapy capacity” (ITAR), supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), aims to design and develop new radiotherapy technologies to give more cancer patients in Sub-Saharan Africa access to treatment and to save lives. The project will contribute to the development of novel radiotherapy machines, specifically designed to meet the needs of African hospitals. The challenge brings together an international team of accelerator physicists and engineers, medical physicists, radiobiologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, IT experts, and health system researchers.

The state of cancer care

The number of people per radiotherapy machine per African country

The annual global incidence of cancer is projected to rise to 27.5 million cases by 2040, leading to more than 13 million deaths. Up to 70 percent of these will occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Radiotherapy is an essential component of cancer care being a very effective means of curing the disease, as well as palliative treatment, and where available, is used to treat more than half of patients.

Many low and middle-income countries in Africa have acute shortages of radiotherapy machines. In the lowest-income countries, only four percent of cancer patients that need radiotherapy treatment are able to be treated. There are currently only 385 radiotherapy machines in the region, and 60 percent of those are located in just three countries – South Africa, Egypt and Morocco.

A report by the Lancet Oncology Commission – Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control (GTFRCC) of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) recently estimated that by 2035 at least 5,000 additional megavolt-class treatment machines would be needed to meet radiotherapy demands in low-and middle-income African countries.

A collaborative effort

The ITAR project, a critical part of a larger international project that includes the International Cancer Expert Corps (ICEC), CERN, STFC (Daresbury Laboratory), and Lancaster University, is led by Lancaster University and Oxford University and will bring together partners from the Cockcroft Institute, STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Centre (ASTeC), John Adams Institute, Swansea University, King’s College London, ICEC and CERN.

In ITAR’s first phase, the project will define the persistent shortfalls in basic infrastructure, equipment and specialist workforce which remain barriers to effective radiotherapy delivery, and develop novel solutions leading to a detailed specification and conceptual design. The project will then progress to a prototype development phase at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory.

Professor Manjit Dosanjh, from CERN and Oxford University, and member of the ICEC Board of Directors, and who leads the overall international project, said: “I am really excited that the idea, first presented by Dr Norman Coleman of the International Cancer Expert Corps at the 2014 ICTR-PHE meeting held in Geneva, continues to flourish. Having Lancaster and Oxford Universities, along with Daresbury Laboratory and others working on this with STFC’s critical support and ICEC’s expertise, is a significant step in addressing the need for a novel medical linear particle accelerator to generate the radiation for LMICs and other challenging environments.”

Local stakeholder participation is vital to the project’s success

Dr. Taofeeq Ige (National Hospital Abuja, Nigeria) in front of one of the hospitals radiotherapy LINACs

Dr. Taofeeq Ige (National Hospital Abuja, Nigeria) in front of one of the hospital’s radiotherapy LINACs.

A critical aspect of the project’s challenge cluster is the involvement of the international partners. Dr. Taofeeq Ige and Dr. Simeon Aruah, of the National Hospital Abuja, Nigeria, and Dr. Surbhi Grover, of the Botswana-UPENN Partnership and Princess Marina Hospital, are key partners working in African hospitals. They will gather information from a network of other hospitals in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and play a key role in the definition of the specification for the new machines.

In addition, ICEC provides a network of international oncologists, medical physicists, and engineers working in radiotherapy systems. They are already providing training and mentorship in lower- and middle-income countries and will continue with their assistance in the development of the radiotherapy system in this project.

Professor Graeme Burt, of Lancaster University and the Cockcroft Institute, and who is leading the phase 1 project said: “Current radiotherapy machines are optimised for use in western countries. The ITAR project aims to design specifically for use in Africa making it far more tolerant to the local environment, which will greatly increase the capacity for more lives to be saved.”

Professor Deepa Angal-Kalinin, of STFC and the Cockcroft Institute, University of Manchester, and who is leading the accelerator design said: “I am keen to apply the knowledge and expertise at Daresbury Laboratory to develop a novel medical linac design in this phase of the project which will prepare us to build a prototype to test our novel ideas.”

Media queries should be sent to:
nina.wendling@iceccancer.org or graeme.burt@cockcroft.ac.uk