Two years ago United Nations General Assembly declared February 11th 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. Unfortunately, women and girls continued to be excluded from participating fully in science. According to a study conducted in 14 countries, the probability for female students of graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and Doctor’s degree in science-related field are 18%, 8% and 2% respectively, while the percentages of male students are 37%, 18% and 6%.
The percentage of women in the field of research varies between countries and,regions. It varies from 48% in some parts of Europe to 17% in South Asia. The UNESCO report on gender disparity in Science had this to say :
Although more women are studying for degrees related to health, science and agriculture than before and there is even a gender imbalance in favour of women at the tertiary level overall, the sheer drop in female researchers to less than 30% globally indicates that serious barriers remain to the full participation of women in science and engineering. At the transition from master’s to PhD level then, as they climb the rungs of the career ladder, a number of women are ‘lost’ to science. Even women who embark on a career in science or engineering often leave their jobs for family reasons or change career paths more often than men. Recent research indicates that approaches to this problem need to change, an affirmation supported by the data. The approach of getting more women to study science and choose a scientific career needs replacing with an approach oriented towards ‘fixing the system,’ that is, addressing the points of attrition, barriers and culture that are causing women to abandon science.
Marking the occasion the British Royal Society came out with a series of tweets highlighting women achievers in Science. I am sharing here a few of them.
These high achievers in Science underline the fact that given enough opportunities women can perform as well as men in Science. By denying a large percentage of humans such opportunities we are holding back advancements in scientific research.