Why we need more women and girls in science

We look at the importance of International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020 and how it is helping women and girls to realise their aspirations.

We look at the importance of International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020 and how it is helping women and girls to realise their aspirations.
This month has seen International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February. To mark the occasion, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen praised the extraordinary achievements of women scientists across Europe, reminding our full potential was reached only if we used “all our talent and diversity”.She acknowledged that not every woman and girl got a chance to realise their aspirations. “Less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women”, von der Leyen said in her video message, quoting UN data. “This must change”, she stressed.In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.

'Equality for all and equality in all of its senses'

In 2018, of almost 15 million scientists and engineers in the EU, 59 per cent were men and 41 per cent women, according to Eurostat. “Equality for all and equality in all of its senses” is one of the major priorities of the von der Leyen Commission and of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. “My Commission will work hard to achieve full and equal access of women and girls in science. A Union of equality is one of our key priorities,” von der Leyen said.Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, also sent a video message where she stressed EU's commitment to inclusion and equality as drivers of progress, innovation, and economic growth. Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth recently launched the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2020, celebrating female leaders in innovation and aiming to inspire the next generation to follow their footsteps.

Diversity in the tech industry

As both a woman and a data scientist at a large tech company, Dr Anya Rumyantseva, a data scientist at Hitachi Vantara, is passionate in her views on diversity in the tech industry and believes companies have a responsibility to create better inclusivity and address the sector’s pervasive gender equality problem. She says, "The sector still has a gender equality problem. Change is afoot – but it’s just not happening fast enough. In the UK, only 8 per cent of professional engineers are women and the average income for female engineers and technicians is nearly 20 per cent lower than their male counterparts. That’s unacceptable.

"Part of the problem stems from gendered stereotypes. It’s the year 2020 – we need to drop terms like 'tech bro'. The best ideas thrive where there’s genuine diversity of thought. In an industry that depends on constant innovation, companies should be going out of their way to create an inclusive culture that holds the door open to people from every walk of life. It’s time to overcome the stereotypes.

"I’m a data scientist, and I love my job. But, we do need to encourage more young girls to show interest in STEM subjects at school. That can only really happen if girls feel like ‘data scientist’ or ‘software developer’ aren’t just jobs for boys."Dr Rumyantseva believes that the onus is on companies to create a fair environment where women have equal opportunities and are empowered to achieve their career goals. The companies that fail will be left with a workplace that drives away great talent, and the great ideas they would’ve brought with them.

She adds, "There are companies already out there leading the charge, and every day I get to see brilliant women doing incredible things – they’re paving the way for the next generation of innovators and leaders. Tech is one of the most exciting spaces to work in and we’re an industry known for driving change, so I am optimistic about the future and do believe things will change.” 

Think Women International Womens Day
Relocate’s Think Women lunch will be held on 6 March at the Institute of Directors, London, where we will discuss how inclusion, leadership development and education can promote more opportunities globally for women and girls. Come and share your ideas on how to support girls and young women embarking on international careers and shaping the future.

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Similar Think Women events will be held in EMEA, APAC and the Americas later in the year and virtually. Contact us at events@relocatemagazine.com to find out how you can be involved in your area.

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