This 11th of February, join us as we celebrate the 9th International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
In this article, meet the young women of Nova Scotia who are making a difference and learn how you can participate in encouraging more young girls to pursue the sciences.
How it all began
On December 22, 2015, the UNESCO General Assembly established an annual International Day whose aim is to raise awareness surrounding the important contribution of women and girls in science and technology. Women’s contributions to science still tend to be overlooked today, robbing not only young girls of the opportunity to reach their full potential but robbing the whole scientific community as well from fully realizing diverse perspectives in innovation and technology.
Last year, in the 2023 assembly, private and national organizations alike met at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York, to discuss the promotion of equality in science, technology, and innovation. This is in line with the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The overall aim is to unite the efforts of both developed and developing countries to end poverty and ensure peace and prosperity by 2030.
Did you know?
The goal of observing the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is not simply to recognize those who have already contributed to science, technology, and innovation. The goal of recognizing these women and girls is to inspire more young women to pursue the sciences and break the barriers of gender inequality that still pervade the scientific community today. Women are not only outnumbered in the scientific environment but are overlooked as well.
A 2023 survey commissioned by the British Science Association showed that 1 in 3 young people do not recall being taught about women scientists in school. 65% of the girls surveyed aged 14 to 19 thought that it was important for them to be taught about women role models in STEM, and 71% of the boys who participated in the survey agreed with this statement.
On the international scale, less than one-third of researchers are women. They are also less likely to receive funding or get promoted. In 2022, data collected by UN Women showed that females comprised only 22% of the professionals studying artificial intelligence whilst only 28% of engineering graduates were women.
What you can do to participate?
The greatest challenges of Agenda 2030 and its SDGs require us to harness all talent. Gender equality is long overdue. Policymakers and citizens alike need to do their part in ensuring more women get to work in the fields of science. Our participation needs to be strengthened. Break down the stigma and stereotypes surrounding girls who want to pursue science and technology.
Take inspiration from these four young women of Nova Scotia who are taking their place at the STEM tables:
From left: Susie Brigham from N.S. Girl, Shabad Kaur, Dejhani Allen, Jahtaya Skeete, Jeff Douglas and Damini Awoyiga at CBC’s Halifax studios. (Alex Mason/CBC)
Shabad Kaur, a member of the Canadian Association for Girls in Science, spoke about how young men in her family were always asked what they wanted to pursue at university, but never asked her.
Dejhani Allen is the young owner of Culture Dance Movement and also runs the Brawta Jamaican Jerk Joint with her family.
Damini Awogiya is a young student activist and Halifax’s Youth Poet Laureate. She founded the Afro-Indigenous Book Club and writes about poetry that brings attention to social justice issues.
Let us encourage more young women like them to pursue excellence in any of their chosen fields.
You can find a #WomenInScience social media package (available in English, Spanish, and French) in this link.