Fewer than 30 percent of the world’s scientific researchers are women: that’s just one of the statistics showing how many challenges remain for women and girls in the scientific field, as the world marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Pledging to end the gender imbalance in science, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message that “dismantling gender stereotypes” was an essential step.
He highlighted the fact that “girls and boys perform equally well in science and mathematics, but only a fraction of female students in higher education choose to study sciences” and called for more supportive career development for women scientists and researchers.
In her statement issued to mark the day, UN Women’s Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, reinforced that message, specifying that “science and innovation can bring life-changing benefits, especially for those who are furthest behind — such as women and girls living in remote areas, the elderly and people with disabilities.”
Highlighting also the importance of science for decent work and jobs of the future, including in the green economy — essential to tackle the climate crisis — Mlambo-Ngcuka said there was a clear need to “break gender stereotypes that link science to masculinity.”
According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), women in science, technology, engineering and maths are published less, paid less for their research and do not advance as far as men in their careers.
UNESCO data from 2014-2016 shows that globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in information and communications technology, where women represent only three percent, and natural science, mathematics and statistics, where the figure is five percent.