Celebrating Steminists

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Annually, February 11 marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to celebrate the accomplishments women and girls make in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Historically, women and girls were unrepresented in fields like engineering, technology and medicine. Furthermore, their accomplishments and advancements are often diminished and do not receive the same praise as their male counterparts. In December of 2015, UNESCO International decided to commemorate women and girls in science by making February 11 the International Day of Women and Girls and Science. Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, said this about the day, “on this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s reiterate this fundamental message: women need science, and science needs women. Only by tapping into all sources of knowledge, all sources of talent, can we unlock the full potential of science, and rise to the challenges of our time.” 

There may be several reasons why there is a large gender gap in STEM. In the past, access to higher education often excluded women, as well as other marginalized groups. Notably, Mt. A was the first university to grant a woman, Gracie Annie Lockhart, her Bachelor’s degree in the British Commonwealth in 1875. While women were eventually able to enroll in universities, they still faced many barriers. This is still apparent today, with some countries not allowing girls to attend school.

Rachel Wadden – Argosy


Moreover, negative stereotypes and expectations surrounding women in STEM persist. Many women in STEM report that they have to consistently prove themselves to their male coworkers and this can lead to self-doubt. Also, many women in the workplace state that they feel pressure to lessen work hours and workload after starting a family. While many fathers are taking on larger roles in household and parenting duties, women are still expected to be the primary caretakers of their children. These detrimental biases further infiltrate the workplace, with many women in STEM stating that they feel pressured to take on more “feminine” roles in professions. The preconceived notions of “feminine” roles are rooted in beliefs of what women should do, how they should act and behave in the workplace.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science promotes women and girls to join the field. The gender bias persists today in many fields and women are still underrepresented. Ultimately, to continue to make breakthroughs in the scientific field a diverse team is needed to drive the innovation. International Day of Women and Girls in Science hopes and plans initiatives to get women and girls interested in areas of STEM. 

Mt. A takes numerous initiatives to support its students in all sectors of study and to promote a diverse learning community. There are individual societies for many programs, for example, the Biology Society. In particular, there is a student-led society, the Women in Science Society, which aims to celebrate and empower people who identify as women in science. If students would like more information on this society, please reach out to them on Instagram at @women_in_science_mta. 

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