Empowering the next generation of STEMinists in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 10, 2024


The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated annually on 11 February, recognises and promotes the achievements of women and girls in STEM subjects and the important contribution they make to the advancement of knowledge and innovation.

The day also commemorates the challenges and obstacles women have faced when pursuing a career in science. Today's world of work is undergoing rapid digital change. Almost every job today and in the future will require STEM skills, regardless of industry. By 2025, 28 percent of companies believe they will need to overhaul the digital skills of a third of their workforce to remain competitive. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, around 27 percent of women are employed in the IT sector, reflecting a global trend where women continue to be disproportionately disadvantaged in STEM fields due to gender biases and stereotypes.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina supports the country in promoting the participation of women and girls in STEM fields and in achieving gender equality. One example is the Economic Governance for Growth (EGG) project, which is generously funded by the Kingdom of Norway. The project helps to improve access to digital learning opportunities, nurture interest in STEM subjects from school age, improve the environment for entrepreneurship and strengthen applied research and development for innovation.

To encourage girls' and boys' interest in technical subjects, the project has set up STEM labs and introduced the ‘STEM – Schools of the Future’ programme in 29 schools across the country. Zenica Technical School is one of these schools.

“Schools are key when it comes to promoting the importance of STEM education, especially for girls. Through STEM activities and communities in schools, we enable young people to explore the concept of STEM education and consider STEM career paths. By integrating STEM activities and communities in educational institutions, we offer young people the opportunity to cultivate a culture of innovation.” Maja Hadžisalihović, Director of Zenica Technical School


Students and teachers participating in the programme will have the opportunity to engage more deeply with robotics and other STEM fields through a series of workshops, webinars and access to educational content provided with the support of UNDP BiH.

Hana Ibrahimagić

"Promoting gender equality and empowering women in schools is important to achieve greater representation of women in STEM fields and unlock their limitless potential. This change will inspire more women to pursue careers in STEM fields and ultimately change societal norms and the perception of women's role in promoting economic prosperity".
Hana Ibrahimagić, participant of the ‘STEM – Schools of the Future’ programme from Zenica Technical School


The participants of the programme emphasise that the promotion of women in science in Bosnia and Herzegovina depends heavily on breaking gender stereotypes and presenting role models that inspire girls to pursue a career in science.

Ajda Ćorić

“Advocating for gender equality policies and breaking stereotypes could gradually change cultural attitudes and institutional practises and create a more inclusive environment for female scientists. However, it may take longer to fully address deeply ingrained societal norms and structural barriers. In the long term, sustained efforts may be necessary to achieve significant change".
Ajda Ćorić, a student at Zenica Technical School


One notable observation made by the students is the influence of popular culture on gender stereotypes among young people. Many point out that women in STEM fields are not proportionally represented in films, literature, and textbooks. For example, a study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media shows that nearly 43 percent of STEM characters sacrifice their personal lives to work in STEM fields.

“It is imperative to prioritise the promotion of role models who can influence expectations and challenge traditional gender norms. Encouraging girls to pursue different career paths must be a priority,” emphasises Maja Hadžisalihović.

With the International Day for Women and Girls in Science theme “Women and Girls in Science Leadership, a New Era for Sustainability” ” and the subtheme is “Think Science ... Think Peace”, we need to recognize the role of women and girls in science as agents of change, making a crucial contribution not only to economic development of the world, but to progress across all the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well.