By Lenore T. Adkins

The United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea are committed to promoting opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including computer science, to advance equality and economic growth.

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Kelley E. Currie said that tackling the persistent challenge of underrepresentation of women in STEM is vital to improving societies.

“Promoting women’s full and meaningful participation in STEM industries advances economic prosperity and growth around the world,” she said at the outset of the Summit on Women’s Leadership in STEM, held virtually October 19–23.

“Ensuring equal access to opportunities in STEM industries is not only essential to close the labor gap and support economic growth, but leads to more inclusive, innovative and prosperous societies,” she added.

The summit—organized by the U.S. Department of State with high-level speakers from the governments of the three countries, as well as from academia, the private sector and civil society groups—focused on how to prepare future generations of women to work in STEM industries, which offer higher earning potential than most other fields.

Officials from Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States expressed commitments toward ensuring women around the world have full access to economic opportunities and recognizing women as key drivers of economic growth. Currie said empowering women allows them to make greater investments in their communities, spurring economic growth.

“Societies that recognize the vital roles that women play politically, economically and societally, work to remove regulatory barriers and legal and policy constraints that keep women on the sidelines,” she said. “They understand that doing this makes their societies more prosperous and peaceful.”

Banner image: Kim Seung-yeon, Animal Research Facility supervisor at the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul, South Korea, puts on a protective suit required to enter a COVID-19 testing lab. (© Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)