08.02.2018 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

Joint-Message from UNESCO and UN Women for the International Day for Women and Girls in Science

Joint-Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO and Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women on the occasion of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science

Our future will be marked by scientific and technological progress, just like our past. That future progress will be the greatest when it draws on the full talent, creativity and ideas of women and girls in science.

Most countries, industrialized or not, are far from achieving gender parity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects (STEM) at every level of the education system. That deficit feeds the employment gap. According to estimates by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, women currently represent less than 30 per cent of the research and development workforce worldwide.

The rapidly growing science and technology sectors are vital to national economies. Tackling some of the greatest challenges of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development -- from improving health to combatting climate change -- will rely on harnessing all talent. That means we need to achieve a significant increase in the number of women entering and remaining in STEM careers.

One of the main tools for tackling gender inequality in the sciences is dismantling the barriers to girls and women, at home, in the classroom and in the workplace. This requires a change in attitudes and the challenging of stereotypes. We need to tackle biased perceptions amongst teachers, employers, peers and parents of the suitability of girls and young women to learn science – or learn at all – to pursue scientific careers or to lead and manage in academic spheres.

It is difficult for girls to believe in themselves as scientists, explorers, innovators, engineers and inventors when the images they see on social media, in textbooks and in advertising reflect narrow and limiting gender roles. This is why UN Women is leading the “Un-stereotype Alliance” initiative, which encourages advertisers, tech companies and influencers to banish old-fashioned, stereotypical portrayals of gender in advertising that could diminish or limit the role of women in society. These inaccurate depictions can hinder women’s careers, including as scientific innovators.




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