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 United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/212 declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
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. Yet women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science.
Today, just 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. According to UNESCO data (2014 – 2016), only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent).
Gender Stereotypes and Lack of Inclusion
Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science related fields. As in the real world, the world on screen reflects similar biases—the 2015 Gender Bias Without Borders study by the Geena Davis Institute showed that of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job, only 12 per cent were women.
Recent studies have found that women in STEM fields publish less, are paid less for their research, and do not progress as far as men in their careers. Girls are often made to believe they are not smart enough for STEM, or that boys and men have natural affinity for the field.
Despite these setbacks, women and girls continue to lead innovation and ground-breaking research. They have created life-saving medicine and broken the sound barrier, explored the universe and laid the foundation to understand the structure of DNA. They are inspiring role models for our future generations.
Our future will be marked by scientific and technological progress, which can only be achieved when women and girls are creators, owners, and leaders of science, technology and innovation. Bridging the gender gap in STEM is vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and for creating infrastructure, services and solutions that work for all people.
On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s change this narrative. Join us in celebrating women and girls, who are leading innovation and call for actions to remove all barriers that hold them back.