Mon | Feb 17, 2020

Letter of the Day | More women needed in science

Published:Wednesday | February 13, 2019 | 12:24 AM

“I hadn’t been aware that there were doors closed to me until I started knocking on them” – Gertrude Elion


The lack of female representation in science is problematic. On February 11, the United Nations, along with the international community, commemorated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Despite the fact that women represent half of the world’s population, a United Nations survey concluded that the probability of female students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science is 18 per cent, compared to 37 per cent for males. The theme this year is ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth’.

As a society, we absolutely rejoice that more girls are attending school than at any other time in our history, yet we must be concerned that girls continue to be under-represented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

According to the United Nations, less than 30 per cent of researchers globally are women.

On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we need to do more for girls to see themselves as researchers and scientists. We need to ensure that in the diagrams and picture illustrations used in textbooks, girls are equally represented.

Process of empowerment

Empowerment is a process and as such, our girls need to be empowered through science education in order to view that field as a viable career choice. The society must become proactive and put in place a programme aimed at debunking all those gender stereotypes that have prevented females from traditionally pursuing STEM subjects.

In respect of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the society needs to guarantee that girls have full and equal access to, and participation in, science for women.

In the words of Mae Jemison,“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity”.