Did you know that women are typically given smaller research grants than their male
And, while they represent 33.3% of all researchers, only 12% of national science
academy members are women. That’s why, on February 11th, we celebrate International Day of
Women and Girls in Science – to acknowledge these gender gaps and recognize the importance
of closing them.
Over the past few decades, education and career opportunities for women have grown. But
when it comes to participating in science, women and girls continue to be excluded and
underrepresented. Allowing all people to participate fully in scientific fields is a key part of
Women have played an important role in the history of science, dating back to the 1800’s when
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became the first female physician. Since then, women have made
groundbreaking scientific discoveries, won Nobel Peace Prizes, taken on leadership positions in
scientific associations, and much more. For example, in 1951, Rosalind Franklin discovered
DNA’s helical structure. However, James Watson and Francis Clark are often attributed this
discovery, even though they couldn’t have done it without Rosalind’s data. This is just one of the
many examples where the leader in a discovery was female but men were given the majority of
the credit. Recognizing the role of women like Rosalind in scientific history helps younger
generations of women see themselves in the field and encourages them to pursue their
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals include a goal focused on achieving
gender equality. Sustainable development requires that all people, especially women and girls,
are allowed to fully participate in society. Supporting and empowering women – not just in
science, but in any field – will result in greater opportunities for human advancement.
Check out this article for a few of the ways you can help support women’s advancement in
science! You can also read about the progress that the United Nations has made since 2016
within gender equality and the movement of empowering women and girls.