In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Despite progress in ensuring opportunities for women in STEM fields, women and girls continue to be systematically underrepresented as users and leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. With too few women in decision making roles and higher-paying STEM jobs, the gender gap in STEM has deep implications for the future of global economy. For instance, women stand to gain only one new STEM job for every 20 lost, in stark contrast to men, who gain one new STEM job for every four lost. Improved recruitment, retention and promotion policies, as well as continuous learning and up-skilling for women can go a long way towards closing this gap. In order to achieve the sustainable development goals, we need to ensure full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.
As the fourth industrial revolution starts, the jobs of the future will be driven by technology and innovation, and if the gender divide in STEM is not bridged soon, the overall gender gap is likely to widen. On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s change this narrative. Let’s celebrate women and girls who are leading innovation and call for actions to remove all barriers that hold them back!