"Day of Women in Science"


“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained” Marie Curie. Today we celebrate #WomenInScience because gender equality and women’s empowerment are pre-conditions 4 sustainable development. On the Intl. Day of Women in Science, we honor women in all fields of science — and look forward to educating the next generation. Equal participation of women and girls in the fields of science is a critical right and a means by which women can achieve their aspirations in life. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is founded on the principle of leaving no one behind, including women and girls who continue to be systematically under-represented both as users and as leaders in the science, technology and innovation space. The current trajectory will not get us the world we want.

We need to encourage and support girls & women achieve their full potential as scientific researchers and innovators, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. 

Change carries high rewards: first and foremost, women will have the capability to make equal life and career choices in these fields. This engagement carries benefits for everyone. Estimates are that GDP across 144 developing countries would be boosted by up to US$13-18 billion, if 600 million women and girls go online in the next three years.  The job market is changing rapidly and a new wave of innovations is expected to transform lives in areas such as robotics, transport, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and genomics. Jobs that do not exist today will be common within the next 20 years. That means that the future workforce will need to develop and align their skill sets to correspond to these job market needs.

Yet, in tertiary education globally, women are underrepresented in computing, engineering and physics, with levels below 30 per cent in most countries. Consequently, fewer than one third of jobs in the tech sector are currently held by women. Engineering roles comprise only about half of those jobs. As women work their way up the career ladder, this gender gap widens. Freedom and equality are often contingent on intersectional factors like income, geography, gender, income, age and race. These factors can also affect access to technology.  In developing countries women are nearly 25 per cent less likely to be online than men and 200 million fewer women than men have access to mobile phones. In several of Africa's poorer and more fragile countries, only one person in 10 is an internet user. To ensure women and girls have access, a host of issues must be resolved, including cost, network coverage, security and harassment, harmful social norms and stereotypes around science being a “masculine” field, and the use of technology by women and girls.

UNESCO estimated that 2.5 million new engineers and technicians would be needed in sub-Saharan Africa alone to achieve improved access to clean water and sanitation during the pre-SDG era.

 Science and technology offer unique opportunities for women and girls to overcome a number of the barriers they typically face. For example: mobile money has empowered and transformed the lives of millions of women previously thought to be “unbankable”, by enabling them to directly access financial products and services. Women with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) skills can help improve vital infrastructure such as water and power supply, and in doing so ease the responsibilities that women and girls carry of providing unpaid care work for the household. Similarly, internet and mobile technology can help bridge barriers to education for the 32 million girls who are out of school at the primary level and the 29 million at the lower secondary level.

Closing the gender digital divide is one of the most important ways we have to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for all. Together, on this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we can work together to create a world where women and girls design, shape and benefit from the technological transformations changing our world.

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Sheryl Sorby: Recruiting Women For Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM)WWatch this great TEDxTalk about of Women in Science

"The not-so-secret secret is that I struggled with spatial skills when I was an engineering student. I couldn’t figure out why my friends had no problem with engineering graphics but I felt lost. I could do all of the engineering work but what I didn’t know is that I had weak spatial skills. Years later, when I started teaching an engineering graphics course, I noticed a number of my students, particularly women, had problems with the course due to weak spatial skills. I decided to do something about it and began what has become my major career focus and passion –to help students be successful in their chosen fields of study with proven, research-based spatial training” says Sheryl Sorby.

Sheryl Sorby's talk, Recruiting women for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), will discuss her experience of how training in spatial thinking can improve performance in STEM courses, particularly amongst women. Dr. Sheryl Sorby is a 2013 Fulbright Scholar Awardee from Michigan Technological University and Ohio State University to Dublin Institute of Technology.

More than an Hollywood actress, she Co-Create the Wi-Fi which allows us to communicate today. Thank you Hedy Lamarr!

 At the beginning of World War II, Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, which used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of their work are now incorporated into modern Wi-Fi, CDMA, and Bluetooth technology, and this work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.


 Marie Skłodowska Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, and was part of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris.

She was born in Warsaw, in what was then the Kingdom of Poland, part of the Russian Empire. She studied at Warsaw's clandestine Flying University and began her practical scientific training in Warsaw. In 1891, aged 24, she followed her older sister Bronisława to study in Paris, where she earned her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband Pierre Curie and with physicist Henri Becquerel. She won the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Her achievements included the development of the theory of radioactivity, techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world's first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centres of medical research today. During World War I, she developed mobile radiography units to provide X-ray services to field hospitals.Amazing ART work 

While a French citizen, Marie Skłodowska Curie, who used both surnames, never lost her sense of Polish identity. She taught her daughters the Polish language and took them on visits to Poland. She named the first chemical element that she discovered‍—‌polonium, which she isolated in 1898‍—‌after her native country.

Marie Curie died in 1934, aged 66, at a sanatorium in Sancellemoz (Haute-Savoie), France, of aplastic anemia from exposure to radiation in the course of her scientific research and in the course of her radiological work at field hospitals during World War I.


   The physical and societal aspects of the Curies' work contributed substantially to shaping the world of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Cornell University professor L. Pearce Williams observes:

    The result of the Curies' work was epoch-making. Radium's radioactivity was so great that it could not be ignored. It seemed to contradict the principle of the conservation of energy and therefore forced a reconsideration of the foundations of physics. On the experimental level the discovery of radium provided men like Ernest Rutherford with sources of radioactivity with which they could probe the structure of the atom. As a result of Rutherford's experiments with alpha radiation, the nuclear atom was first postulated. In medicine, the radioactivity of radium appeared to offer a means by which cancer could be successfully attacked.

If Curie's work helped overturn established ideas in physics and chemistry, it has had an equally profound effect in the societal sphere. To attain her scientific achievements, she had to overcome barriers, in both her native and her adoptive country, that were placed in her way because she was a woman. This aspect of her life and career is highlighted in Françoise Giroud's Marie Curie: A Life, which emphasizes Marie's role as a feminist precursor.

She was known for her honesty and moderate life style.  Having received a small scholarship in 1893, she returned it in 1897 as soon as she began earning her keep. She gave much of her first Nobel Prize money to friends, family, students, and research associates. In an unusual decision, Curie intentionally refrained from patenting the radium-isolation process, so that the scientific community could do research unhindered. She insisted that monetary gifts and awards be given to the scientific institutions she was affiliated with rather than to her.  She and her husband often refused awards and medals. Albert Einstein reportedly remarked that she was probably the only person who could not be corrupted by fame.

Why Women in Science?
Science plays an important role for sustainable development from informing the formulation of evidence-based targets and indicators, to assessing progress, testing solutions, and identifying emerging risks and opportunities. The Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Development Agenda pose a number of conceptual as well as implementation challenges that will require enhancing the close collaboration between the policy and scientific communities and other stakeholders.

   In social terms, the involvement of women in science is nothing less than a moral imperative. Gender equality beginning with access to educational resources is,   according the 4th World Conference on Women, an inalienable, integral, and indivisible part of all human rights and freedoms.

   In economic terms, the involvement of women in science is a necessity. They are regarded as an important factor of growth and development both in the case of developed  and developing countries.

 Mae Jemison: the first African American woman in space “I want to make sure we use all our talent, not just 25 percent. Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”


    In terms of the environment, women in science play an essential role in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound patterns of consumption and production,   along with approaches to natural resource management. Through their management and use of natural resources, women provide sustenance to their families and    communities. As consumers and producers, caretakers of their families and educators, women play an important role in promoting sustainable development through their  concern for the quality and sustainability of life for present and future generations.

 In terms of culture, lack of access for women, and in particular to science, creates cultural barriers that ripple throughout communities, undermining the perception of these    rights and freedoms among children, especially girls.

Only 3% of engineering degree applicants in the UK are girls and 6% of the UK engineering workforce are female. That’s right, it’s in the single digits!

The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underlines the power of science as a driver for human rights and dignity, poverty eradication and the protection of the planet.  On this first International Day of Women and Girls in Science, UNESCO’s message is clear – the new Agenda will not meet its promise without investing in women’s and girls’ empowerment through and in science.

More than ever today, the world needs science and science needs women. 

Rosalyn Yalow: Medical Physicist, awarded the Nobel prize in 1977 “We cannot expect in the immediate future that all women who seek it will achieve full equality of opportunity. But if women are to start moving towards that goal, we must believe in ourselves or no one else will believe in us; we must match our aspirations with the competence, courage and determination to succeed.”

Almost 21 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action from the 4th World Conference on Women, women remain underrepresented in the natural sciences. According to the most recent UNESCO Science Report, women account for only 28 percent of researchers across the world, with the gap deepening at the higher echelons of decision-making. Women have less access to funding, to networks, to senior positions, which puts them at a further disadvantage in high-impact science publishing. 

96% of the world’s software engineers are men. The average salary for a software engineer in the US was close to $100,000, one of the top paying jobs in the country, with a similar trend worldwide.

This calls for deep and sustained change, starting in the earliest years through improved participation of women and girls in science education, training and research activities at all levels. Girls’ and women’s access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) cannot be envisaged when girls and women remain the majority of out-of-school children, youth and illiterate adults. This gap throws a shadow over entire societies, as no country can move forward with only half its creativity, energy, and dreams. 

May-Britt Moser: Neurologist who was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for work on the brain’s positioning system “I’m excited because earlier I didn’t think about the issues between females and males in science. I see now that there’s so much that can stop a woman from getting a career compared to a man. With men you’re expected to do well and get the support, but for females, you have to sacrifice something in a different way from men, and I didn’t realize that earlier. I think it’s very important for other woman to see that I have had success.”

Women in Science: Explore the data

Interactive tool produced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).


THE DAY.. in brief


The Synthesis Report of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Post-2015 Agenda, “The Road to Dignity by 2030”, issued on 4 December 2014, devoted section 4.2 to “Science, Technology and Innovation for a Sustainable Future”.

Paragraph 119 of the Synthesis Report states that “we have a long way to go to reach the necessary level of participation of women and girls in science, technology (including ICTs), engineering and mathematics for the world in the 21st century.

Rita Levi-Montalcini: Neurobiologist, won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of growth factors in 1986 “If I had not been discriminated against or had not suffered persecution, I would never have received the Nobel Prize”.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to a great degree need a strong science base, and this cannot be achieved at any level unless girls and women have an  incentive, such as recognition and the example of role models, to have in front of them. Inclusion of an International Day of women and Girls in Science annually on 11 February during the annual session of the Commission on Social Development would bring the issue of advanced education in all scientific fields to wide public attention and help to popularize many of the SDGs in the mind of the greater public.

 Carol W. Greider: Molecular Biologist who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine “In the newspapers, there’s a picture of me and my kids right there. How many men have won the Nobel [Prize] in the last few years, and they have kids the same age as mine, and their kids aren’t in the picture? That’s a big difference, right? And that makes a statement.”

The commemoration of the day will also enable people worldwide to discuss the many existing challenges and issues facing women and societies today, and then to determine the indispensable solutions, actions, policies and programmes to overcome these issues through science-based accomplishments in sustainable development by women in science.



The idea for an International Day of Women and Girls in Science was generated during the first High-Level World Women's Health and Development Forum organized by the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) and The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and held on February 11th 2015 at the United Nations Headquarters.

Following outreach to a number of partners and stakeholders at all levels and with RASIT’s partnership with the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, the Republic of Malta, a milestone year was reached in which the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution (70/212) proclaiming February 11th annually the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.  The sponsorship of more than 68 countries and the approval of all Member States to the resolution signals the global community's interest in transforming our world through achieving gender parity in educational opportunity and scientific participation. 

 Francoise Barré: Virologist who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2008 for her work trying to find a cure for AIDs “Certain people – men, of course – discouraged me, saying [science] was not a good career for women. That pushed me even more to persevere […] I was from the generation of 1968. It was a period of activism and women were demanding their rights.”

The First Commemoration was organised by the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) and held at the United Nations Headquarters, with participation by UN Member States, the two focal points of UNESCO and UN Women, UN DESA, private sector, academia, and other civil society actors, including girls in science and a special introduction of a "He for She" element.

The Second Commemoration, organised by the Royal Academy of Science International Trust and the Ministry of Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties of Malta, will  be held at the United Nations Headquarters, during the Maltese Presidency of the European Union Presidency, and will focus firmly on the “Gender, Science and Sustainable Development: The Impact of Media”.  


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets are expected to stimulate action and to guide a sustainable development of the planet, embracing its economic, social and environmental dimensions in a balanced way to spearhead societies towards a sustainable and equitable future.

Gertrude Elion: Biochemist and Pharmacologist, awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1988 “I hadn’t been aware that there were doors closed to me until I started knocking on them. I went to an all-girls school. There were 75 chemistry majors in that class, but most were going to teach it … When I got out and they didn’t want women in the laboratory, it was a shock . . . It was the Depression and nobody was getting jobs. But I had taken that to mean nobody was getting jobs . . . [then I heard] ‘You’re qualified. But we’ve never had a woman in the laboratory before, and we think you’d be a distracting influence.’”

Women account for less than 30% of researchers worldwide

An extraordinary level of political will has been revealed to shift the world onto a more sustainable and resilient path, building on the unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals, with the participation of all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnerships.  Making the inclusive world envisioned in the 2030 Agenda a reality, and to ensure effective implementation for people, planet, and prosperity, the empowerment of women in science and the participation of the media are required.

Linda B. Buck: Biologist who was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine “As a woman in science, I sincerely hope that my receiving a Nobel Prize will send a message to young women everywhere that the doors are open to them and that they should follow their dreams.”


UNESCO Science Report

There are fewer grounds today than in the past to deplore a North–South divide in research and innovation. This is one of the key findings of the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 launched on 10 November 2015.

For two decades now, the UNESCO Science Report series has been mapping science, technology and innovation (STI) around the world on a regular basis. Since STI do not evolve in a vacuum, this latest edition summarizes the evolution since 2010 against the backdrop of socio-economic, geopolitical and environmental trends that have helped to shape contemporary STI policy and governance.

Written by about 60 experts who are each covering the country or region from which they hail, the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 provides more country-level information than ever before. The trends and developments in science, technology and innovation policy and governance between 2009 and mid-2015 described here provide essential baseline information on the concerns and priorities of countries that should orient the implementation and drive the assessment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the years to come.

The report is available for download (pdf). You can also order a copy.

Celebrating and for International Woman in Science Day:


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