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February 11, 2019

Contribution of women in science, technology to be highlighted


February 11, 2019

Islamabad : To acknowledge substantive contribution of women in science and technology and to highlight the challenges they face in adopting this field, the world commemorates International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Monday.

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 adopted Resolution A/RES/70/212 declaring February 11, as the International Day of Women and Science in Girls. Theme for 2019 International Day of Women and Girls in Science is “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.”

UN data shows that at present, Less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. According to UNESCO data (2014 - 2016), only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrollment is particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent).

Studies say that long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science related fields. As in the real world, the world on screen reflects similar biases—the 2015 Gender Bias Without Borders study by the Geena Davis Institute showed that of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job, only 12 per cent were women.

In his message on this day, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that Skills in science, technology, engineering and math drive innovation and are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. “Women and girls are vital in all these areas. Yet they remain woefully under-represented. Gender stereotypes, a lack of visible role models and unsupportive or even hostile policies and environments can keep them from pursuing these careers. The world cannot afford to miss out on the contributions of half our population,” he said while stressing for concerted efforts to overcome these obstacles.

“We must tackle misconceptions about girls’ abilities. We must promote access to learning opportunities for women and girls, particularly in rural areas. And we must do more to change workplace culture so that girls who dream of being scientists, engineers and mathematicians can enjoy fulfilling careers in these fields. Let us ensure that every girl, everywhere, has the opportunity to realize her dreams, grow into her power and contribute to a sustainable future for all,” said his message.

Talking to ‘The News’, Senior Science Promotion Officer for Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) Syeda Rehana Batool said that number of women and girls are increasing in all science fields. “There is a visible change everywhere whether in universities or in research organizations. We find more and more women taking up science fields.

Talking about challenges, she said that girls are getting better marks then boys in science fields but families and social mindset is the biggest challenge they face. “Some find it difficult to give time on career development in these fields after marriage,” she said.

Rehana was of the opinion that if facilities such as day care etc are provided to women in all such organizations, contribution of women in this sector could be enhanced many folds. “In developed world, women with children are provided extraordinary facilities. If same steps are taken here, the number of women at science and technology related work places will increase,” she added.

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