Annually, 11th February marks the United Nations’ ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’. This day serves as a reminder of the importance of gender equality in the field of science and technology. Established by the United Nations in 2015, this day aims to recognise the critical role women and girls play in science, and to promote their full and equal participation in STEM and associated sectors globally.
That’s why, this month, SIGBI will be empowering women and girls in science, by celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Why Did The UN Instigate The International Day of Women and Girls in Science?
The history behind the establishment of this day is rooted in the need to address the gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
Despite progress in recent years, women and girls continue to be under-represented in these fields globally, due to a variety of societal, cultural and institutional barriers. And it’s important to remember that, whilst much progress may have been made in achieving more gender equality in STEM in some countries, many others remain a long way off parity.
An indication of this can be seen in the below image, taken from the article ‘Global STEM Workforce’ by the Society of Women Engineers;
In some countries, the lack of women in STEM can be attributed to cultural attitudes towards gender equality. However, there is also a phenomenon known as the ‘gender equality paradox’, which is evident in many Western countries, particularly the UK. This is where countries with higher gender equality generally, tend to have fewer women achieving STEM degrees. As such, the reasons behind gender parity are complex, and this is why the UN declared 11th February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
2024 will see the 9th anniversary of this day, first initiated by the UN in 2015. The day focusses global efforts to challenge and eradicate the barriers women experience when entering STEM, and aims to inspire more women and girls to pursue careers in STEM, thereby contributing to greater diversity and innovation in these fields.
Why Do The Soroptimists Celebrate The International Day of Women and Girls in Science?
For Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI), an organisation dedicated to empowering and educating women and girls worldwide, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science holds particular significance.
Soroptimists believe in the power of education to transform lives and communities, and recognise the importance of ensuring equal access to education and opportunities in all fields, including STEM.
As a women’s organisation committed to improving the lives of women and girls, both locally and internationally, SIGBI actively supports initiatives that promote STEM education and empowerment. Through their various projects and programme actions, clubs and Soroptimists work to break down barriers and create pathways for women and girls to pursue careers in science and technology in a number of ways.
For example, past projects have included an annual STEM Conference for school girls, organised by SI Crosby, and a STEM challenge for year 8 and year 9 schoolgirls, organised by SI Bournemouth.
What Are The Soroptimists Doing to mark the day?
To mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science this year (2024), Soroptimist clubs across the Federation are organising a range of activities and events aimed at raising awareness and promoting the participation of women and girls in STEM fields.
Additionally, SIGBI clubs around the Federation are collaborating with schools, colleges and other educational institutions to provide mentorship and support to young women and girls interested in STEM subjects. By connecting them with female role models and mentors, Soroptimists hope to provide girls with the encouragement, guidance and enthusiasm they need to overcome obstacles and succeed in their chosen paths.
All programme action with a STEM focus is designed to inspire and empower women and girls to pursue their passions in science and technology.
What’s more, SIGBI is advocating for policy changes and investments that promote gender equality in STEM education and employment. By working with policymakers and stakeholders, SIGBI is pushing for initiatives that address the root causes of gender inequality in STEM and create more inclusive and supportive environments for women and girls.
Want To Help The Soroptimists mark The International Day of Women and Girls in Science?
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science serves as a reminder of the importance of promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls in STEM fields.
For Soroptimists, this day is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to supporting the education and empowerment of women and girls worldwide, including in the field of science and technology, something that we do day in, day out.
However, by celebrating this day and taking action to promote gender equality in STEM, Soroptimists are contributing to a brighter and more inclusive future for women and girls everywhere.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in helping with, you can find out more by browsing our website, or checking us out on Facebook. Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about joining options, you can get in touch with us by completing our contact form, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phoning 0161 480 7686.
Blog by Rachel Weinhold, SI Libertas