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Feminine Forces

By Ananya Raman

From the creator of the computer, Lady Ada Lovelace to Nigar Shaji, the project director of ISRO’s satellite that studies the sun, Aditya-L1, it is safe to say that women are at the hidden forefront of science, technology, and innovation.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science serves as an annual reminder of the pivotal role that women and girls play in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). February 11th marks this day, implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women, in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners that ‘aim to promote women and girls in science’. This day not only celebrates the achievements of female scientists but also sheds light on the persistent gender disparities that exist in these fields.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Though equality in education has been developing over the past century, women and girls continue to be underrepresented in STEM disciplines worldwide. This underrepresentation is not due to a lack of talent or interest but rather stems from systemic barriers and societal stereotypes that discourage girls from pursuing careers in science-related fields. Oftentimes, women find themselves being eclipsed, or even outright copied by their male associates. Despite all these challenges, women have ways to make breakthroughs, be it in secret success, or in astounding glory.

Lady Ada Lovelace, the world's first computer programmer, made groundbreaking contributions to science in the 19th century. Her work laid the foundation for modern computing and continues to inspire scientists and engineers. Nigar Shaji, a contemporary physicist from Pakistan, has excelled in theoretical physics with her research on quantum mechanics and particle physics. It was her contribution that led to the success of India’s Aditya-L1 mission. Marie Curie, a trailblazing scientist, revolutionized radioactivity research, discovering new elements and earning two Nobel Prizes, being the first woman to do so, and thus paving the way for women in STEM. These women exemplify the invaluable contributions of women in science.

Unfortunately, only 30% of researchers worldwide are women, according to UNESCO, highlighting the need for greater gender inclusivity in science. Initiatives like the United Nations Women in STEM program provide education and mentorship for women and girls in STEM fields. The European Union's Horizon 2020 framework prioritizes gender equality in research projects, aiming to increase women's participation in STEM activities. These efforts are crucial for breaking barriers and creating a more equitable environment for women and girls in science.

On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering women and girls in STEM. Let us dismantle gender barriers, challenge stereotypes, and provide opportunities for all! It is up to us, as a society, to create a more inclusive and equitable world where every individual has the chance to contribute to scientific progress and make a difference in the world. 

Innovate. Demonstrate. Elevate. Advance.

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