International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Women and Development
Updated: Feb 17
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.
This was incorporated in discussions about each of our scientific expertise and how we use those skills in our everyday lives. We also showcased our career journeys and offered advice to those hoping to pursue a similar route.
To conclude the event, we partook in a conversation about the ways in which we can encourage girls and women to further their scientific knowledge.
6 ways to encourage girls and women to further their scientific knowledge could include:
1. Standing up against gender bias and stereotypes
2. Showing real-life examples of the exciting parts of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM)
3. Acknowledging that there might be challenges
4. Displaying clear pathways to different career paths
5. Giving work experience opportunities
6. Discussing inspirational and successful women in STEAM
We would like to say a special thank you to our panelists and attendees of this online discussion.
At AstroNoir we are constantly hosting events like this, as well as some in-person events and online content - such as a magazine. We have so much planned for 2023, including round-table talks, drinks, and more.
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