11 February 2017 – Today, only 28% of researchers are women. Even though the number of women in science is increasing, there is still a significant gender gap at all levels of science.
Today we celebrate the International day of Women and Girls in Science to recognise and encourage the role of women in science, and shine a light on the existing gender gap.
There is a wide range of reasons for this gap. Access to technology, education and investment gaps, unsupportive work environments, cultural beliefs and societal attitudes where science and technology is considered as male domains. These are just some of the obstacles that keeps girls from full participation in science, and data shows that girls start self-selecting out of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in early secondary school.
Women also have less access to funding, networks and senior positions than men do, which puts them at a further disadvantage in high-impact science publishing. There is also a gender gap when it comes to access to, participation and leadership in this sector.
It is widely agreed that women need to be better represented in science for several reasons. It is acknowledged that both women and men need to work together to reach the Global Goals for Sustainabl Development.
Women are disproportionately impacted on by poverty, climate change and natural disasters. Instead of treating women as victims, we should see women as an untapped resource and drivers for change and use their knowledge and skills for e.g. climate change mitigation and adaption. Taking the gendered dimensions into account will lead to a more inclusive and sustainable development.
The global community therefore created this International day of Women and Girls in Science to promote the rights of women and to promote and improve all areas of science. As Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova stated in her statement for the International Day: «Humanity cannot afford to ignore half of its creative genius».
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