International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an annual international event that takes place on 11 February. First organised by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, the day celebrates the importance of girls and women in science and the critical role they play in the development of society.
The United Nations recognises that despite the progress women have made to increase their participation in education, there is still a substantial gender gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The Commission on the Status of Women has set a priority for 2022 to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction.
In the UK, the Government released data showing that in 2019/20 women accounted for 11.4% of the overall number of people who began their journey in STEM, compared to only 8.8% in 2017/2018. The increase shows that girls are more empowered to pursue STEM subjects every day, but the path towards more equal representation is long and slow-moving.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science aims to raise awareness about the gender gap in science and further educate the public on how they can inspire young girls to pursue STEM in their future careers.
How can schools and teachers help inspire young girls to pursue STEM
- Study examples of positive role models from history and the world today. Find relevant female role models that can be used as examples in the school curriculum, whether they be historical figures or contemporary scientists. Read a few ideas on how to encourage those conversations with girls here.
- Encourage girls to explore STEM opportunities from Day 1. All kids have big dreams of what they will become when they grow up and those dreams come from their environment. Show young girls the possible paths for STEM and tell them that they can change the world. Because they can.
- Confidence is key. According to the OECD, girls lack self-confidence when it comes to STEM subjects at school. Furthermore, research has found that girls experience high levels of anxiety when they need to solve mathematical or science problems. This may be due to young students’ assumptions that STEM subjects are only for boys. The first step towards fixing this problem is to make sure all students are equally motivated and inspired to work on the same subjects. Create safe spaces in the classroom where all students are encouraged to ask questions without fear of being teased by their classmates.
- Educate parents. The Programme for International Student Assessment has found that not all parents encourage their sons and daughters equally in terms of their aspirations for the future. Parents are more likely to support their sons to pursue science rather than their daughters. Use time during parent-teacher meetings to point out young girls’ successes in STEM subjects. This may help parents see and support their child’s potential. Educating parents is crucial to help eliminate stereotypes about girls, so girls grow to value themselves as capable to follow their dreams.
How to get involved in International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022
- Join the UN’s global network for Women in Science 4 SDGs Global Network to receive relevant information and support here.
- Check out resources from the United Nations on Women and Girls in Science here.
- Help raise awareness and share your school’s activities for International Day of Women and Girls in Science by using the hashtags #February11, #WomenScienceDay, #WomenInScience, and #GirlsInSTEM.
- Dedicate a day for students to express why they would consider becoming scientists and encourage girls to speak up first. You could even encourage students by asking, what device would they invent as a scientist that would make the world a better place?
Name you need to remember
Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician with a brilliant mind. During her 33-year career at NASA, Johnson made considerable contributions to space exploration including calculations for John Glenn’s 1962 orbital flight. The significance of her achievements is far–reaching and timeless. Read more about her life and work here.
Impero is committed to a diverse workforce. This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we’re extending an extra special, “thank you,” to our women engineers for their time, dedication, and hard work towards our mission.