5 ways to celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Women in Science
Just some of the amazing women in science we've profiled on Careers with STEM. From L-R: Cass Hunter (Indigenous social ecological researcher), Karlie Noon (astronomer), Dr Mitra Safavi-Naeini (physicist and researcher), ShanShan Wang (industrial designer), Dr Anika Molesworth (farmer, scientist and writer), and Madhuri Ranjan (paint chemist).

International Day of Women and Girls in Science is on February 11 and you’re invited to the party.

This day came about to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and we’re all for it. It’s a time to shine the spotlight on women in science, talk about the barriers they’ve come up against throughout their STEM studies and careers, bust boring and dated stereotypes, and find ways to do things better.

Below are five simple – yet powerful – things you can do to get involved on February 11.

1. Read about women in science

If you can see it you can be it! Spend some time getting across the stories and CVs of women absolutely killing it in science. Below, three scientists have even shared their top tips for young women in STEM to help them on their own journeys.

Areej Alsheikh, bioinformatician

Bioinformatician Areej Alsheikh has always been interested in logic and analytical thinking, which led her down the career path of biology and microbial genomics.

She encourages budding female STEM enthusiasts to pursue their passions in their chosen industry, sharing that it’s not ‘scary’ or something that can’t be obtained.

“STEM is the future of careers so it’s best to hop on that train now if you have the interest.”

Dr Elizabeth Thomas, cognitive neuroscientist

Dr Elizabeth Thomas is researching genetic markers associated with cognitive impairment across the schizophrenia spectrum.

She believes we need to get more young women excited about STEM. “I think it’s important to get the next generation of students interested in STEM – they’re our future! In particular, I love talking to young women and getting them excited about STEM. We’re underrepresented, and we need to make our presence known!”

Dr Ashleigh Hood, geoscientist and lecturer

Dr Ashleigh Hood is a L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellow and has a killer career as a geologist.

Her advice for girls wanting to break into STEM fields? “Be curious, get involved and don’t ever think you are not clever enough for science or maths. Make sure your voice is heard in class! We need more women working in STEM as I believe research innovation is driven by diverse teams and perspectives. There are so many intelligent and passionate women with amazingly creative ideas who need to chose STEM, pursue their ideas and solve problems to make the world a better place.”

Read the awesome stories of more women in STEM here. We’ve profiled hundreds of them!

2. Amplify the voices of Indigenous women in science

Our First Nations peoples were the first scientists, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women continue to make extraordinary contributions in science.

Find the stories of Cass Hunter (Indigenous social ecological researcher), Karlie Noon (astronomer), Kirsten Banks (astrophysicist and science communicator) and more in the latest Careers with STEM: Indigenous issue.

On socials, be sure to follow and share the work and ideas of:

3. Ask questions

Know an amazing woman working in science? Whether it’s your chemistry teacher or a family friend with a seriously cool outdoorsy science gig, ask them about their study and career journey. What have been the highlights? The hurdles? And what’s their advice for those wanting to follow in their footsteps? If you’re keen to jump on the science train, maybe they could even be your mentor.

4. Bust stereotypes

To get more girls and women into science, we need to bust harmful stereotypes about who works in this area. If women can’t ‘see’ themselves in science, they’re less likely to pursue science careers. And that’s exactly what’s happening – while STEM jobs are growing by the year, enrolments in STEM degrees are declining, especially for women and minorities. The latest STEM Equity Monitor stats show STEM enrolments for women are just 36%. What about after studies? Numbers are low there too. According to UNESCO, only 33% of researchers are women.

On International Day of Women and Girls in Science (and every day, really!) it’s important to speak up and advocate for diversity (of all kinds) in STEM. Scroll through our science role models hub and you’ll see that not just one type of person can be a scientist, and there are SO many incredible women working in everything from nuclear medicine to marine biology. Why not share their stories with your friends interested in STEM or on social media?

5. Get hashtagging

Use the hashtag #WomenInScience to join the conversation on February 11, say no to gender stereotypes and spread the word about including more women and girls in science. Need some A+ content for your socials? UN Women have you covered with all the gifs, quotes and facts you could ever want.

If you know a brilliant woman in science, let us know! We want to shout their achievements from the rooftops. Head over here for more deets.

Louise Meers

Author: Louise Meers

Louise is Careers with STEM’s digital content strategist. She has a journalism degree from the University of Technology, Sydney and has spent over a decade writing for youth. She is passionate about inspiring young people to achieve their biggest goals and build a better future.

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