10.02.2017 - GENDER

Celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, UNESCO organized several events to raise awareness on the need to continue our efforts to bridge the gender gap in Science.

Women account today for only about 30% of the world’s researchers. Their participation is even lower in decision-making levels, according to the 2016 figures from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, in 2015, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

For the second anniversary of this International Day, the Natural Science sector of UNESCO organized a series of events, including a Round Table entitled “Gender Equality in Science: Myth, Reality and Future Perspectives”; a workshop for young women between 13 and 17 years of age aiming to encourage more young women to consider careers in in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Design, and Math (STEAM), and to remove the daunting preconceptions of these careers, such as the image of men in hard hat; and an exhibition created by Marie-Hélène le Ny, featuring women who are pursuing scientific careers in fields dominated by men, to enable new role models to emerge.

The Round Table was the occasion to examine the current trends, determine the factors generating inequalities, and discuss the ways to empower girls and women in STEAM fields. It featured opening speeches from Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences at UNESCO; Saniye Gülser Corat, Director of the Division of Gender Equality Office of the Director-General of UNESCO; Isabel Marey-Semper, Executive Director of the L’Oréal Foundation; and Cedric Wachholz, Executive Officer, Communication and Information Sector of UNESCO. Ms. Corat discussed the reality women are facing in STEAM fields such as unequal pay and the glass ceiling in professional positions, as well as the key factors of gender inequalities in STEAM. “There are hundreds, if not thousands of women scientists whose work benefits us all today but whose names even the scientific journals do not mention” she noted.

UNESCO has been working to create positive environments and positive role models for girls and women to engage in and stay in STEAM careers, from the long-standing program, the UNESCO- L’Oreal Women in Science to the more recent TeachHer initiative, which is designed to work with governments and educators to ensure teachers have the training they need to prepare girls to pursue careers in STEAM. The TeachHer initiative, spearheaded by the United States Mission to UNESCO, UNESCO, the Institute of International Education (IIE), Microsoft, Fitbit, and other NGO and private sector partners, was launched in June 2016 and started training teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. You can find the latest video of TeachHer here.

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