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In many countries in the Middle East and West Asia, the participation of women in STEM areas is exceptionally high – a cause for reflection and celebration on International Women’s Day.
Worldwide, women are severely underrepresented in the natural sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). But there are parts of the world where the opposite is true. For example, in most Middle Eastern and Western Asian countries, women make up the majority of STEM students. In a comment published today, Heba EL-Deghaidy discusses the roots of this phenomenon, which new research shows it is related to the congruence of women’s gender and physics identities in these countries (see Point of View: Why More Women Are Studying Physics in Muslim Countries).
To hear directly from their experiences as women in physics, physics interviewed researchers working in Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine and Egypt (see Questions and Answers: Where Women Scientists Are the Majority). On International Women’s Day, we celebrate these achievements by women who help break down antiquated stereotypes and inspire future generations of women scientists.
–Matteo Rini, Editor, and Katherine Wright, Assistant Editor