Women have been always undermined and taken as a threat in the world of men. Women have always fought for their rights, their aspirations, and to be where they ought to be. Even today women do not have it easy in many fields. Such is the case in the field of science too. As the world struggles with the global pandemic of COVID-19, the women researchers have collectively contributed immensely towards fighting against this deadly virus. They have developed faster testing kits, raced towards creating a quality vaccine while others worked tremendously hard on the frontline.
Meanwhile, these achievements get overshadowed by the substantial negative impact of COVID-19 on young women researchers that just started their STEM careers. They must battle gender-related inequalities, pay scale gaps, the right of participating and publishing research within the scientific community.
Therefore, the international day of women and girls in science is pivotal to encourage more women to choose STEM. UN Women, multiple intergovernmental agencies and institutions initiated this day five years ago. Through this day they aim to endorse and appreciate women in the field of Science. Furthermore, they wish to stimulate and provide equal opportunities for women to contribute to the future of science. This year’s theme is about bringing light to women scientist who has been at the forefront of fighting the pandemic. They wish to highlight the work done by these wonder women to help in curbing and hopefully eradicating this deadly virus.
How have the women in STEM helped combat COVID-19 specifically?
Women in engineering have aided by creating PPE kits for all frontline workers, sustained telecommunication, and municipal services. These services allowed many to stay connected digitally. Many businesses moved to work from home. Millions of students were able to study from home. Women in the technology field helped make room for new tech start-ups and digital health experts that helped combat COVID-19 through innovative technologies like trace and test.
Women in the field of mathematics and science worked towards complex disease modeling to decode the COVID-19. These scientists included: biologists, immunologists, genome experts, biochemists, and infectious diseases specialists. They conducted COVID-19 related research that was of value to their field at a much faster rate.
Furthermore, Women of social science were also integral in the fight against COVID. They offered support to policymakers. They helped explain the significance and influence of correct public health interventions. These women assisted in creating vaccination programs for the people. They offered comfort to those who were unsure about the vaccinations. These women supported many voices that had been severely affected by COVID-19. They represented those voices truly in the developmental process of multiple policies and programs.
We are thankful for these important women who risk their lives every day to better our future.
What can we do to encourage more women to choose STEM?
We need to encourage open conversations that recognize and reflect on gender inequalities within STEM. Furthermore, institutions should try to break barriers that deter women from considering a STEM career. In STEM women-focused recruitment is an area of improvement. Retention programs within STEM for all diverse women needs to improve as well. STEM needs new policies to combat pay scale gaps, publishing rights, and gender-related discrepancies. It is about time we focus on women.
Hopefully, this year many women will receive what they ought to get which is recognition and credit for their valuable work in the field of science. Many new girls will choose to walk on the path of Science and discover themselves. Many will have a breakthrough in their career and create something mind-boggling. All we need to do is let them have autonomy in their life and let them experiment without having judgmental thoughts about them being women. Women are important in our life. Let us celebrate them through their work and achievements and not bind them because of their gender.
(A Celebrated contributor to our society and her gender)