10 Feb International Day of Women and Girls in Science
While there needs to be more action globally about better conditions for women, whether that be equal pay, equal opportunities, or generally, equal rights, the fact is, that when women have the same opportunities granted to them, they can excel.
Sunday 11 February marks the ninth International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The day is about ensuring there is full and equal access and participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.
When the opportunities are there to be grasped, women are making incredible headway in advancing and innovating medicine and surgical techniques.
Sheanna Maine from the Queensland Limb Reconstruction Clinic says the world can only benefit from a greater diversity of scientific perspective.
“Clearly, women are proving themselves to be world leaders in developing medical technology and creating breakthroughs in health,” she said.
“By generating more opportunities for women, we will uncover another Marie Curie, Katherine Johnson or Elizabeth Blackburn.
“The world can only stand to benefit with more women and a greater diversity of initiatives and perspective in the scientific community.
“The International Day of Women and Girls in Science reminds us that change needs to occur, and it needs to occur now.”
According to United Nations research:
- Women are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues and, while they represent 33.3% of all researchers, only 12% of members of national science academies are women
- In cutting-edge fields such as artificial intelligence, only one in five professionals is a woman
- Women still account for only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of graduates in computer science and informatics
- Female researchers tend to have shorter, less well-paid careers. Their work is underrepresented in high-profile journals, and they are often passed over for promotion.
While it may feel that gender equality has come a long way, the gap is still more like a chasm.
In 2022, the U.N. released its report, “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): The Gender Snapshot 2022”.
In a sobering assessment, the report showed that full gender equality may not be reached for another three centuries.
It’s imperative that parity is achieved much sooner, and the STEM community is no exception.
Humans face enormous challenges in terms of health and sustainability, and as a result of the actions of humans, the planet faces the same challenges.
Sheanna says diversity of thought and innovation is the key to making genuine change happen.
“In order to reverse the actions of the past and create a more certain future, a future of better health outcomes for the planet and its inhabitants, it’s essential that we don’t limit our intellectual talent pool based on gender.
“Our future is just that, it’s ours. It’s not a future just for boys and men, it’s a future for all of us, and it should involve all of us to be able to be heard and make a difference.
“We don’t want the Curies, Johnsons or Blackburns to be seen as the exceptions excelling in a man’s world, but rather exceptional individuals excelling in the scientific world for all.
“The simple fact is, by holding women back from having the same access to tertiary education and the ensuing opportunities, mankind is really only holding itself back.”
For more information on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, visit https://www.un.org/en/observances/women-and-girls-in-science-day