On 11 February, the United Nations, partners worldwide, women and girls will mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrating the theme, ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.’
The Day focuses on the reality that science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science related fields.
Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science.
Unfortunately, according to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), women and girls continued to be excluded from participating fully in science.
According to data from the UN Scientific Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and approximately 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education.
Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3%), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%), and engineering, manufacturing and construction (8%).
These numbers mirror some of the experiences that GWP has captured over the years, in particular in connection to International Women’s Day (IWD). In interviews, some female scientists have voiced what it can be like to work in a male dominated profession.
In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/212 declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
“My principle difficulty revolves around the fact that, in the Haitian workplace, many people still have a conventional view of the role of women. For example, during planning meetings, officers who do not know me, often assume that I am a secretary and are surprised when I give interventions as a technician and a consultant. In addition, during field visits, especially at the beaches, I am often mistaken as a model preparing for a seaside photo shoot. I often smile when people come to understand, that the heavy equipment I am carrying is for biological assessments of the marine ecosystems. I can see their discomfort, change in approach and attitude when they realise that they are interacting with a professional field scientist and not a swimsuit model.”
To rise to the challenges of the 21st century, we need to harness our full potential. That requires dismantling gender stereotypes. On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s pledge to end the gender imbalance in science.
~ UN Secretary-General António Guterres ~