The United Nations has urged governments to invest more in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for females, as International Day of Women and Girls in Science was marked on Sunday.
According to Unesco, less than 30 percent of researchers in science worldwide are women. Moreover, only around one in three female students in higher education selects STEM subjects.
“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,” said a joint statement from Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
“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,” they said.
The UN reports that the probability for female students of graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and Doctor’s degree in science-related field are 18 percent, eight percent and two percent respectively, while the percentages of male students are 37 percent, 18 percent and six percent.
Systemic discrimination means women occupy less than 30% of research and development jobs. Throughout history, women scientists have built our world. It’s time to support and invest in them. pic.twitter.com/f7yUrva8NU
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) February 10, 2018
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that: “we need to encourage and support girls and women achieve their full potential as scientific researchers and innovators.”
“Women and girls need this, and the world needs this, if we are to achieve our ambitions for sustainable development on a healthy planet,” he said in a statement.
The International Day has been marked since 2015, when the UN General Assembly decided to recognise the role of women in science and technology.