Every year on February 11th, the world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (IDWGIS). This day serves as a crucial reminder of the immense contributions women and girls have made, and continue to make, in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Yet, the celebration also highlights the persistent gender gap that remains a reality in these fields.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2024 Theme
This year’s theme, “Closing the Gender Gap in Science: Accelerating Action”, underscores the urgent need to address the barriers that hinder women and girls from pursuing and thriving in STEM careers. These barriers include:
- Stereotypes and unconscious bias: Women are often discouraged from pursuing STEM fields due to societal expectations and stereotypes that associate these fields with men.
- Lack of role models and mentors: The underrepresentation of women in senior STEM positions makes it difficult for young girls to find role models and mentors who can guide and inspire them.
- Unequal access to education and resources: Girls in many parts of the world face limited access to quality education and resources, particularly in STEM subjects.
- Discrimination and harassment: Women in STEM fields often experience discrimination and harassment, creating a hostile and unwelcoming environment.
History of International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2024
The call for equal representation in science isn’t new, but the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (IDWGIS) marks a crucial chapter in this ongoing narrative. While it’s just a one-day celebration, its history reflects a growing global recognition of the need for action:
From Seeds of Awareness to Concrete Action:
- 2011: The seeds are sown as the Commission on the Status of Women acknowledges the need for girls’ and women’s equal access and participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
- 2013: The UN General Assembly recognizes the vital role women play in scientific progress and urges action to dismantle barriers hindering their participation.
- 2015: A landmark year arrives! The UN General Assembly declares February 11th as IDWGIS. Its mission:
- Promote full and equal access to STEM education and careers for girls and women.
- Celebrate the achievements of women scientists and inspire future generations.
- Address the root causes of gender disparity in STEM fields.
Themes Driving Change:
Over the years, IDWGIS has focused on specific themes to highlight critical areas:
- 2016: Access and participation
- 2017: Global citizenship: committed to action
- 2018: Science, technology and innovation for gender equality
- 2019: Investment for a gender-equal future in STEM
- 2020: Science, technology and innovation for building a more sustainable future for all
- 2021: Women researchers at the forefront of combatting COVID-19
- 2022: Reimagining the future for girls and women in STEM
- 2023: Innovate, Invest, Accelerate: A New Era for Girls and Women in STEM
A Journey with Milestones Yet to Reach
While progress has been made, significant challenges remain. Women’s representation in STEM fields varies greatly across disciplines and regions. The journey towards equality requires:
- Amplifying the voices of women and girls in STEM.
- Challenging stereotypes and unconscious bias.
- Investing in education and resources for girls in STEM.
- Advocating for policies that promote gender equality.
IDWGIS is more than a celebration; it’s a call to action. Each year, it renews our commitment to a future where all girls and women can confidently step into the exciting world of science and contribute their unique talents. Let’s honor the history of this day by working together to make that future a reality.