Building the future of Latin America: engaging women into STEM


The W-STEM project aims at improving strategies and mechanisms of attraction, access and guidance of Women in Latin-American STEM Higher Education programs.

Project information

Project duration


Funded by

Multiple sources

Project funder

European Union through Erasmus Plus Programme (Spanish Agency)
Capacity-building in Higher Education Call for proposals EAC/A05/2017

Funding amount

862 268 EUR

Project coordinator

Other university or unit

Contact information

Contact person

Project description

The participation of Women in STEM in the Latin-America region is a very complex problem in which necessarily call for actions from different actors, such as governments, private sector, families, as well the different levels of education (since childhood to higher education).

In order to make concrete contribution, Higher Education Institutions need to focus on those needs and situations in which it has certain influence for making real progress, such as:

  • Significant minority of Women choose and access to STEM programs at tertiary level. The lowest rates appears in science and engineering programs.
  • Data is scarce, showing a need for analytical and systematic methods, which reflect actual participation of women in STEM at HEIs.
  • Tertiary studies with a high math component such as STEM seem to be excluded from the studies options by girls in secondary schools.
  • Lack of bridges between public policy and institutional actions led by HEIs.

In this way, and aligned to the Erasmus + Capacity Building priority for improving management and operation of higher education, in terms of access to and democratization of Higher Education, the W‐STEM Project aims at Improving strategies and mechanisms of attraction, access and guidance of Women in Latin-American STEM Higher Education programs.

For achieving this main objective, W-STEM project, will

  • Measure the gender equality in enrolment and retention rates in STEM programs.
  • Implement Universities’ policies, strategies and organizational mechanisms for improving attraction, access and guidance at undergraduate levels in STEM programs.
  • Promote STEM studies vocation and choice in girls and young women in secondary schools as well as guidance in the first year of the STEM program.
  • Develop an online training package for Higher Education Institutions to implement effective strategies to enhance attraction, access and guidance of Women in STEM programs.

Project results

Heikkinen, M., Harmoinen, S., Keiski, R., Matinmikko-Blue, M., Pihlajaniemi, T. (2022). Making and Taking Leadership in the Promotion of Gender Desegregation in STEM. In: García-Peñalvo, F.J., García-Holgado, A., Dominguez, A., Pascual, J. (eds) Women in STEM in Higher Education. Lecture Notes in Educational Technology. Springer, Singapore.

Heikkinen M, Pääsky L, Harmoinen S (2021). Kestävän kehityksen SAGA—Sukupuoli ja muut erot korkeakoulujen STEM-alojen tieteellisen tiedon tuottamisessa. [The SAGA of Sustainable Development—Gender and other differences in a knowledge production of HEIs STEM fields]. In: Sukupuolentutkimus 2:38–43.

Heikkinen Mervi, Pihkala Suvi, Pääsky Leena & Harmoinen Sari. (2020). Intersectional gender-responsibility in STEM: Co-creating sustainable Arctic knowledge production, In Heininen, L., H. Exner-Pirot and J. Barnes (eds.) (2020). Arctic Yearbook 2020. Akureyri, Iceland: Arctic Portal. Available from

Garcia-Holgado A, Mena J, Garcia-Peñalvo FJ, Pascual J, Heikkinen M, Harmoinen S, Garcia-Ramos L, Peñabaena-Niebles R, Amores L (2020) Gender equality in STEM programs: A proposal to analyse the situation of a university about the gender gap. IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference, 1824–1830.