As the scientific community is realising that the unique skills and perceptions women bring to the laboratory, times are a changing for female scientists. The unique ways the female brain works in addressing challenges are seeing breakthrough innovations as never before. It is the ideal time to celebrate the change in the global attitude towards female scientists. We look at some of the great reasons to celebrate Women in Science.
The Proportion of Female Global Researchers is Rising
According to a report, Gender in the Global Research Landscape, the proportion of women researchers and inventors is steadily increasing across the globe. Women now account for between 38 and 49% of all researchers in 11 of the 12 countries and regions studied.
However, data proves that much work is still to be done to see female researchers reach their potential and rightful place among their male peers. Areas which need addressing include the fact that women publish fewer papers, are less likely to collaborate internationally on research papers and are generally less internationally mobile than their male counterparts.
One measure where women come out ahead is scholarly output in highly interdisciplinary research.
Diversity is a Necessity
A growing body of evidence points to the value of diversity in the sciences. The director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Ellen Stofan, says individuals from different genders, races, backgrounds and experiences bring different perspectives which can lead to innovative solutions.
“We simply cannot afford to have any less than our whole population engaged and contributing. The answers are out there. Give girls role models, teach them the skills they need, encourage them and show them that scientific careers will help change the world for the better.” – Director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Ellen Stofan
More Organisations are Employing females in STEM
As knowledge increases regarding the benefits of welcoming more women into STEM studies and careers, many organisations are working to level the playing field.
From the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) to the Million to Million Women Mentors (MWW), these initiatives are geared to encourage and educate girls to pursue careers in STEM. Harnessing their collective power, mentoring is now on the frontline to push for change across the scientific, technology, engineering and mathematics environments.
The Physics Nobel Prize went to a Female Scientist this Year
Children’s rights activist, Marian Wright Edelman, said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Men have historically made up the vast majority of portrayals of scientists in movies and television shows. Until Canada’s Donna Strickland, who recently became the first women in more than half a century to win the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Heralded for her “ground-breaking inventions in laser physics,” Strickland encourages aspiring female scientists to follow their talents and passions. “If you have the ability and you want to do it, I think you should do it. The real achievement will be when every single person gets to do what’s in their ability and what they want to do without anybody saying you shouldn’t do it,” she told BBC.com.
Popular BBC Series – Doctor Who – is now a woman
Some good news about female STEM role models in the media – the modern version of popular BBC series Doctor Who, now features a female Time Lord!
In declaring the selection of a female Doctor Who to be the greatest science communication in his lifetime,” senior physics lecturer, Martin White, said that in an age of binge watching, the coming generation will be awed by both the Doctor’s male and female incarnations.” Can there be any better role model for budding young scientists?”
Despite all these accomplishments heralding a new era in science, according to UNESCO data, the fact remains that women make up a mere 30 % of global STEM students.
Who is going to follow in the footsteps of Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, Rachel Carson, Grace Hopper, Katherine Johnson and many other renowned female scientists? For those with the dream, the passion and the talent, the world is opening up for women to change it for the better and be a role model for future generations!