World Celebrates ‘International Day of Women & Girls in Science’ Today

Today, the world celebrates the contribution of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and supports the further inclusion of women in STEM.

The United Nations stated that “gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution” towards the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This can primarily be attained by empowering women and girls and providing them “full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation.”

'International Day of Women & Girls in Science' Celebrated Today
Photo: U.S. Air Force / Ilka Cole

However, despite huge efforts made by governments and different organizations over the past 15 years, women remain to have smaller participation in fields related to STEM.

In the field of research, for example, less than 30% of researchers are women. One of the reasons for this may be because only about 30% of all female students pursue STEM-related programs in higher education.

It was also observed that the enrolment of female students globally is significantly lower in the following fields of study: engineering, manufacturing, and construction (8%); natural science, mathematics, and statistics (5%); and ICT (3%).

The failure to increase the participation of women in STEM may not only be detrimental for women, but also for the rest of humanity. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be highly dependent on fields related to STEM. If women continue to be underrepresented in these fields, the gender gap between men and women may likely widen even more.

Two recent graduates from USAID’s Female Engineering Internship Program examine project design plans
Photo: USAID Afghanistan

One way to increase the number of women involved in STEM is to promote it during events like the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which is held annually on the 11th of February. UNESCO and UN Women are both in-charge of implementing this recognition day.

This year’s theme is “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.” It recognizes the women who are currently contributing to sustainability efforts and the battle against climate change.

The essence of the celebration was explained in a joint statement:

“by harnessing the creativity and innovation of all women and girls in science, and properly investing in inclusive STEM education, research and development, and STI ecosystems, we have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to benefit society.”

Audrey Azoulay (Director-General of UNESCO) and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Executive Director of UN Women)

Follow what’s happening today via the official Twitter account of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

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John is a mechanical and environmental engineer who is fascinated with current and future tech. To this day, he still can't get over how amazing touchscreens and airplanes are.