Women and girls have long suffered from genderprejudices and stereotypes that kept them away from science-related sectors. Today, they are four times less likely than men to get the essential digital basic skills for the future.
The gender gap in scientific fields is real. There are very few women (less than 30%) engaged in the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics degrees, known as STEM degrees. According to UNESCO, they get worse pay and their research does not advance as fast as men’s.
Great successes in scientific field have been achieved throughout history by scientific women, such as the discovery of the chemical elements polonium and radium and HIV, and they have changed our world. Despite their precious contributions, women’s participation in the scientific field is minimized.
The UNESCO’s Director, quoting French writer Stendhal who said that sentence more than two centuries ago, confirms that, “ full gender equality would be the clearest sign of civilization and it would double the human being’s intellectual power.” Regardless the several improvements since the 19th century, gender inequality is still present in a global scale and more specifically in the scientific field. UN Women’s Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, also made an appeal to the elimination of gender stereotypes which links science and men and to the provision of positive examples for young generations: female engineers, astronauts, and researchers. She also added in an official message that, “we need a strategy focused not only on the women representation increase in the talent pool for jobs in science and technology, but to ensure that they prosper by encouraging them to stay in these well-paying jobs and by designing organizational cultures in institutions that allow women to advance in these fields.”
According to the recent study What’s keeping women out of Data Science? Conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and BCG GAMMA, only 25% of the total number of women with a STEM degree work in professions related to these sectors; and only 15-22% specialize in data science. Furthermore, the UN Secretary General added in an event that, “if we do not reverse this trend and, if we do not have real parity in women and men defining and designing the technologies of the future, we run the risk of power relations between men and women will be reversed again. The education of girls in the areas of science and technology is essential from the point of view of gender equality in the future.”
If we want to move forward in development, let’s be gender conscious, as the researcher Marla Sokolowski pointed out: “It’s important not to waste the intellectual capacity of half the population! Think of how many more mysteries would be solved if all the capable minds working on a problem were duplicated and included both men and women.”