Every time there is a new International Day of this kind proclaimed I can’t help it but have mixed feelings. I feel joy, because at long last the subject is being placed in the global agenda; but at the same time I feel sorrow precisely for the very fact that it needs to be put on the spotlight in the first place. These are typically issues in which we are doing very poorly or that we have been underestimating, thus it requires us all to reconsider.
And this is definitely the case if you think about this figure: 2 out of 10 bachelor degrees in science-related field are earned by women (yes, only 2! that is, only 18% of graduates in those subjects).
Several groups and individuals have long pointed at the importance of advancing girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). However, it seems like gender bias has a greater impact than we think.
As a recent report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) states, from early childhood, cultural stereotypes guide our choices directing us toward certain careers. Studies suggest that girls who associate mathematics with boys and men are less likely to perceive themselves as being interested in or skilled at mathematics and spend less time studying or engaging with mathematics concepts.
Gender equality along with the empowerment and education of women and girls, are core issues for the United Nations, and the importance of women and girls for the economic development of the world has been stated through goals 4 -Quality Education and 5- Gender Equality of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Last December, the United Nations Member States adopted a resolution to establish an annual International Day to recognise the critical role women and girls play in science and technology. The United Nations invites us all to observe the first International Day of Women and Girls in Science -11 of February through education and public awareness-raising activities, such as:
- Promoting the full and equal participation of women and girls in education, training, employment and decision-making processes in the sciences
- Eliminate all discrimination against women, including in the field of education and employment, and overcome legal, economic, social and cultural barriers
- Encouraging the development of science education policies and programming, including school curricula to encourage greater participation of women and girls
- Promoting career development for women in science and recognize the achievements of women in science
Sorrow or joy? It doesn’t really matter after all. The important thing is that we take part on this global movement from our own fields of action and for the sake of our women and girls.