‘More women and girls in science means better science,’ declared UN head
that is message from the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres on friday, the International Day of Women and Girls in Sciencepeople who have specific calls to action to boost their rankings.
Diverse and fresh perspectives
“On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we highlight a simple equation: More women and girls in science means better science,” said Mr. Guterres.
“Women and girls bring diversity to research, expand scientific expertise, and provide new perspectives on science and technology that benefit everyone.”
In theory, science should be open to everyone, however it is still predominantly male.
Gender inequality and prejudice
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, although more girls are going to school today than ever before, women and girls are underrepresented in STEM (science) education. , technology, engineering and math).UNESCO).
Only one in three researchers are women, and women make up only 35% of graduates in STEM-related fields.
Their numbers are even less in cutting-edge fields like Artificial Intelligence, where only one in five professionals are women.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said: “If these gender inequalities are so severe, it is because they are deeply ingrained in our society. message for day.
“It’s because of the persistence of stereotypes and gender stereotypes that sometimes convince girls that scientific research isn’t for them, even though they have great potential.”
Mold starts early
The low number of women working in science or research to enter the field is a direct reflection of the discrimination they face around the world. speak Sima Ba Hou, the leader UN womenagency fighting for gender equality.
This is even more true for marginalized women and girls, including indigenous and African women, women with disabilities, those living in rural areas, or those who identify as LGBTIQ+.
“This begins in the early years of a child’s life and is shaped and reinforced by gender stereotypes and norms,” says Ms. Bahous.
“These can be found in curricula, textbooks, and teaching and learning practices. The choices made on girls in school shape their careers and employment opportunities as adults.”
A ‘paradigm shift’ is needed
Changing the picture, she added, requires “a paradigm shift” and a commitment to acknowledging and ultimately removing structural barriers.
It must lead to education reform, “with a new curriculum that encourages girls to explore science from an early age, including science and technology subjects all the way up to elementary school. ”
Or, as the head of the United Nations put it bluntly: “We must – and we can – do more to promote women and female scientists.”
Unleash your potential
The Secretary-General called for initiatives such as new scholarships, internships and training programs, as well as quotas, incentives and mentorship programs, to help women overcome inherent barriers and build their careers.
Crucially, he stressed the need to assert women’s rights and break down stereotypes, prejudices and structural barriers.
“We can all do our part to unleash the immense untapped talent in the world – starting with filling classrooms, labs and boardrooms with female scientists”.
Example of excellence
UNESCO is one of a number of United Nations agencies working to encourage girls and women to study science and has supported a mentoring program in East Africa that has so far reached 11 million students. , especially girls.
Since 1998, UNESCO and the L’Oréal Foundation have organized an awards ceremony to recognize outstanding female scientists around the world.
More than 120 laureates have been honored during this period, five of whom have also received Nobel Prizes.
“As role models, they are role models for young women to follow – emphasizing that they too can achieve excellence,” said Ms. Azoulay.
A number of young scientists participated in an event at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Friday, focusing on global progress towards bringing about clean water and sanitation, renewable energy and industrialization. communities, while making them safer and more inclusive.
The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi called them Nobel laureates and future innovators who will discover solutions that can save the planet.
“You are living proof why it is so important for more and more women and girls to be able to exercise their right to equality in education,” he said.
Mr. Kőrösi wonders what would be the impact if women’s access to STEM education were the rule, not the exception, as their under-representation “hinders” global efforts to achieve sustainable development.
“We need the expertise of female scientists to tackle challenges – from climate change and food insecurity to disease outbreaks and water scarcity, just to name a few,” he said and added that “given the challenges we are facing, we cannot afford the luxury of not tapping into a larger pool of talent.”