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But the insufficient presence of women not only raises questions regarding the fairness and equality of scientific structures. It is also a condemnation of the whole way a traditionally structured world operates. Women are in a minority and as such have little or no say in determining scientific policies and find it difficult to change the way institutions - and research in general - develops. Also, when it comes to role models, there are too few to provide much inspiration for young girls interested in careers in science.

Above and beyond any specific measure, the integration of the 'gender' dimension in science and research must bring about a cultural change. The need for equality must be incorporated in policies, programmes and projects. But how? Perhaps by first identifying where the deficiencies lie - that is the specific points that create the present status quo - and then by changing the mechanisms, not so that women can receive favourable treatment, but so that men and women are on the same footing. 'If the universities, research institutes and other bodies are not prepared to fight to retain or attract women to sciences, is there any point in educating them in the sciences in the first place?' This is the somewhat provocative question posed by the authors of the report.

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Women and science