February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Throughout the world, pioneering women scientists have marked, and continue to mark our history. But there are still too few who have their talents developed and recognized. The under-representation of women and girls in science, innovation and cutting-edge technology, especially in leadership positions, does not, and will not, allow us to find the inclusive, effective, and sustainable solutions that we need today to build a better society for all.
The 2021 UNESCO Science Report reminds us that women are still a minority in science. Here are a few of the report’s observations that are worth recalling:
- Women represent only 33% of researchers, 22% of professionals in the field of Artificial Intelligence, and 12% of seats in national academies of sciences.
- Despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the digital 4.0 revolution, women represent only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of computer science graduates.
- The careers of women researchers tend to be shorter and less paid. Their work is underrepresented in top journals and they are often overlooked for promotions.
We Must Continue to Stand Up!
Breaking gender stereotypes, tackling gender inequalities in access to scientific studies and careers, recognizing and strengthening the full and equal participation of women and their valuable contributions in research and innovation, promoting their leadership within scientific communities, are more than ever essential to meet the challenges we face today: health challenges, climate change, but also the open and secure sharing of information in order to raise public awareness to scientific culture and contribute to informed decision-making.
During his speech on the occasion of the 2022 International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, recalled that “we can, and we must act.”
Encourage Girls to Train in STEM
In more than 120 countries, Soroptimist encourages and accompanies young girls to train in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), by granting them scholarships, by creating environments in which women can realize their true potential, by making contact between young women and role models or integrating them into mentoring networks.
Major companies are also mobilizing in support of UNESCO to encourage and reward women scientists. For example, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program promotes the talents of young women at the start of their scientific careers, and the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Prize is awarded each year to five distinguished women scientists – one from each of the following regions: Africa and Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America – in recognition of their scientific achievements.
Science Plays Vital Role in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals
We are all aware of the vital role that science, technology and innovation play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including providing solutions to improve people’s well-being, advance environmental sustainability and respect for biological diversity. So, let’s push our girls to move forward, to dare, and let’s facilitate the essential engagement of women in the scientific and technological community by strengthening their full and equitable participation.
Impact of Soroptimist Dream Programs
Education is the key to unlocking economic empowerment of the world’s women and girls. When women and girls are educated, they have opportunity, choice and power to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families. Our Dream Programs can help more women and girls pursue careers in science.
Live Your Dream: Education & Training Awards for Women
Each year, the Live Your Dream: Education & Training Awards for Women award over $2.8 million in education grants to nearly 1,800 women to help them achieve their educational goals. Since 1972 the program has helped tens of thousands of women achieve social and economic empowerment. Eligible applicants can submit their application between August 1 and November 15.
Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls
Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls gives girls the tools they need to achieve their education and career goals, empowering them to break cycles of poverty, violence, and abuse.
We believe that girls can be anything they dream, sometimes they just need someone to show them the way.
Evelyne Para is the Soroptimist International United Nations Representative at UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)