A teenage girl in a chemistry class at a school in Zambia.
An adolescent girl conducts an experiment during a chemistry class in Kamulanga Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia.
Photo:UNICEF Photo/UN0145554/Karin Schermbrucker

Full and equal access and participation for women and girls in science

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the past decades, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. Yet women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science.

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 declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015.

women and girls in science

Women and Girls in Science: Agents of Change

Recognizing the role of women and girls in science, not only as beneficiaries, but also as agents of change, including in view of accelerating progress towards the achievement of SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), the 7th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly will focus on the following topic: “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us". #February11 is celebrated globally in different ways, big and small. Your action will add to the collective voices on Equality in Science.

Background

A significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world. Even though women have made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented in these fields.

Gender equality has always been a core issue for the United Nations. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution not only to economic development of the world, but to progress across all the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well.

On 14 March 2011, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted a report at its fifty-fifth session, with agreed conclusions on access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology, and for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. On 20 December 2013, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on science, technology and innovation for development, in which it recognized that full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation for women and girls of all ages is imperative for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

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Did you know?

  • Women are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues and, while they represent 33.3% of all researchers, only 12% of members of national science academies are women.
  • In cutting edge fields such as artificial intelligence, only one in five professionals (22%) is a woman.
  • Despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of graduates in computer science and informatics.
  • Female researchers tend to have shorter, less well-paid careers. Their work is underrepresented in high-profile journals and they are often passed over for promotion.

Related observances

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.

Women accounted for one in three (33%) researchers in 2018. They have achieved parity (in numbers) in life sciences in many countries and even dominate this field, in some cases. However, women remain a minority in digital information technology, computing, physics, mathematics and engineering. These are the fields that are driving the digital revolution and so, many of the jobs of tomorrow.

 

 

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International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.