Unfortunately, the impact of science and technology on society has not been uniformly beneficial. Even at the close of the twentieth century, women in the developing countries, especially in the rural areas, are still experiencing serious difficulty in meeting their own basic needs, and the basic needs of their household. Scientific and technological interventions have improved many aspects of women's lives, allowing for important declines in both maternal and infant mortality. However, over the last three decades, women in developing countries have also become disproportionately poor in relation to men in their own communities. This difference between men and women worldwide cannot be understood without explicit reference to the gender-specific nature of development, including scientific and technological contributions to the development process.
There is also significant gender inequality in education and careers prospects for girls and women. This phenomenon is by no means confined to the developing countries: in most industrialized countries there are similar obstacles to girls and women receiving education, particularly in science and education, and in pursuing scientific and technical careers. The available data clearly demonstrate that women are under-represented in scientific careers and decision-making bodies in both the developing and industrialized countries.
The differential impact of new technologies, particularly information technologies, on women's and men's employment received particular attention. The results of a commissioned study suggest that in many cases new technologies have also made many existing jobs in manufacturing redundant or obsolete. These changes have affected men and women differently, but overall female labour has been displaced more than male labour. New jobs are more skill-intensive than old jobs and women have been at a disadvantage because of limited training opportunities for women compared to men.
The role of the UN in addressing gender issues and promoting better awareness of relationships between gender and science and technology is crucial. This could be achieved, [inter alia], through initiation, monitoring and evaluating activities in this field; encouragement of recruitment of women in science and technology/sensitive positions; incorporation of gender analysis into the design of science and technology programmes; and strengthening of informal methods of inter-agency networking in this area.