On 22 December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly decided to establish a day, to celebrate and recognise the achievements women play in science and technology. This is how The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was established and is now celebrated every year on 11 February.
Why is talking about gender imbalance in STEM so important?
Women are key players when it comes to driving innovation and progress. When it comes to higher education, the SheFigures study from 2021, based on data from Eurostat, highlights that in 2018 the EU had already achieved some important goals for gender parity, with women representing 48.1% of doctoral graduates at the European level. However, on the other side, at both European and country levels, female doctoral graduates were over-represented in the field of Education and under-represented in the broad fields of Information and Communication Technologies and Engineering, Manufacturing & Construction. When it comes to employment, women were also less represented among the population of employed scientists and engineers at the European level (41.3%).
Another worrying statistic is that just 33,3 % of researchers globally are women and even then, they are less likely to get funding or get promoted.
Not to mention that women’s work rarely gets the recognition it deserves – less than 4% of Nobel Prizes for science have ever been awarded to women, and only 11% of Senior research roles are held by women in Europe.
The lack of gender balance in STEM is rooted to some extend to the early educational development of women. From an early age, women are excluded from some subjects in school that are considered more male-oriented. Females also lack strong female role models they could look up to within those highly crucial years of their development.
These factors accumulate over time and discourage women not to pursue careers in STEM. Did you know that “women account for only 29% of PhD graduates in engineering, manufacturing and construction across the EU? They represent only 25% of self-employed professionals in technical professions such as science, engineering, or information and communication technologies and significantly under-represented among inventors, with only 10% of patent applications coming from women”.
Surely we all thought that we were working towards putting an end to the gender gap within science and technology, yet the McKinsey analysis shows a tech talent gap of 1.4 million to 3.9 million people by 2027 for EU-27 countries. However, the analysis also has a positive outlook on the situation and believes that if Europe manages to double its share of women in tech roles to about 45%, which in numbers is an estimated 3.9 million additional women by 2027, apart from closing the talent gap, it will also bring benefit from a gross domestic product (GDP) increase of as much as €260 billion to €600 billion.
What will this year’s focus be for IDWGIS?
This year, the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly will take place on 10 February 2023 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The theme of the event will be Innovate. Demonstrate. Elevate. Advance. (I.D.E.A.): Bringing communities Forward for sustainable and equitable development.
The event will focus on the role of Women and Girls and Science as relates to the SDGs in review at the forthcoming High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), namely SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and SDG17 (means of implementation).
The event’s goal is to connect the International Community to Women and Girls in Science and strengthen the ties between science, policy, and society for strategies oriented towards the future.
What is the EU doing to increase women participation in STEM?
The European Commission is committed to supporting gender equality in the fields of research and innovation, as part of the Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2025. The Strategy presents policy objectives and actions for a gender-equal Europe.
Within the context of Horizon Europe, the Commission has identified 3 areas of consideration:
- having a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) in place becomes an eligibility criterion for certain categories of legal entities from EU countries and associated countries
- the integration of the gender dimension into research and innovation content is a requirement by default, an award criterion evaluated under the excellence criterion, unless the topic description explicitly specifies otherwise
- increasing gender balance throughout the programme is another objective, with a target of 50% women in Horizon Europe related boards, expert groups and evaluation committees, and gender balance among research teams set as a ranking criterion for proposals with the same score
REGILIENCE embraces female talent and recognises the value and expertise women bring.
It may come as a surprise, but the workforce behind the REGILIENCE project consists of predominantly females. The ratio is in favour of women with 63% female representatives and 37% males. The women take on roles within coordination, research, communication, management finance and head of project management office.
The REGILIENCE project is committed to including gender and intersectionality as a transversal aspect in the project’s activities. In line with EU guidelines the project’s consortium recognises the importance of advancing gender analysis and sex-disaggregated data collection in the development of scientific research.
The project has set up a strategy for gender mainstreaming and created a working group on gender in order to guarantee that gender mainstreaming is taken into account throughout all the activities of the project. The strategy consists of 3 pillars:
- Collecting sex-disaggregated data, when possible, as well as asking our regions for such data;
- Collecting information on gender from interviews, surveys and questionnaires;
- Validating said surveys, interviews and questionnaires and feedback for platforms, indicators, activities development etc. only if coming from a balanced number of women and men.
- Ensuring an equal number of women and men as speakers to workshops, conferences, forums and other events;
- Providing equal space and power to all genders when moderating a discussion;
- Inviting a balanced number of female and male representatives attending workshops, conferences, forums and other events;
- Organising at least one specific activity with a focus on gender targeting up to 10 European regions.
- Including the gender results from the project in presentations and other external activities;
- Use gender sensitive terminology in all dissemination materials and platforms.