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AstroNoir Blog Posts

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Women and Development

Updated: Apr 21

It goes without saying that life as a woman, unfortunately, can be difficult. Whether it be society, environment, or health, women are often confronted with precarious situations.

A United Nations Women report stated that 54% of the almost 130,000 girls who are not in education live in regions of crisis. Additionally, according to the National Women's Law Center, in 2019 it was 11% likely that a woman would live in poverty as compared to 8% for men. This number increases depending on demographic for example 18% of Black women lived in poverty. Despite these facts, women play a vital role in global development.

To increase the possibility of creating innovative societal and climate solutions, we need heterogeneous thoughts and experiences.

We need diverse voices to partake and lead in influencing change.

However, for this to happen systemic change needs to take place.

Science (and the other STEAM subjects) is a key tool in developing and creating technologies, critically solving real-life problems, and giving informed advice toward policies. A society that solves a majority of its problems, is one of equity. Women scientists offer a multitude of beneficial perspectives that can fill in some gaps of well-needed knowledge. An example of this is the procedural bias of not seeing sex as a scientific variable in medical scientific research leading to miscalculated doses, medication side effects, and misdiagnosed diseases.

First, what are some things we know about women in science:

  • According to the Guardian, in the UK, undergraduate science enrolments consisted of 52% male and 40% female

  • For postgraduates, the gap increases to 34% female and 46% male. In 2014, physics A-levels 78.9% were male

  • About 30% of worldwide researchers are women, says UIS data

How can this gap be addressed, furthermore, what can be done to encourage girls and women to pursue scientific careers?

Rather than solely focusing on quantitative aspects, we must also address qualitative reasons why women and girls would pursue a science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) career.

Our aim at AstroNoir is to make science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics more approachable through community building and hands-on activities.

On Friday the 10th of February 2023 we hosted an International Day of Women and Girls in Science online conference. Here, members of the AstroNoir team (Chaneil James, MSc. and Marjahn Finlayson, MRes.) were joined by two panelists Alexa White M.S. and Adria Peterkin, M.S.

The focus of the conference was to confront the challenges that women face in a developing world. Delivering real-life examples of the work being done by women in mitigation and adaptation, and addressing the challenges pertaining to creating an equitable world for women, especially regarding sustainable development.