The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, is implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women, in collaboration with partners that aim to promote women and girls in science. Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO. In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015. At Wetsus, we fully support this day and the goals. The same goes for Girls’ day .
We asked a few Wetsus women to share their thoughts on Women and Girls in Science.
PhD candidate Jolanda: “I want to contribute to society, to empower people, and continue to fight for equality.”
“As far as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the sciences. Both my parents are chemists, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise. In that sense, I had great role models to pursue a STEM career and should feel like I belong there.
Yet it was at my bachelor’s study that I felt out of place at times. Most professors were male, and still now, in my PhD most people in higher positions are men. They are great people, but I notice I try to surround myself with more women inside and outside of Wetsus. In general, men and women have different styles of communicating.
So, it’s great to have an increasing number of women in science. People should feel great and comfortable at their workplace. But the fight for equality is not over yet. If we want to make a difference, we can. I want to contribute to society, empower people, and continue fighting for equality. That’s why I am here.”
Postdoc Amanda: “I want to show young women that there is so much you can do in science and engineering.”
“I’ve always been good with numbers and love the puzzling elements of science. It all makes sense and gets you answers. But I never knew what I would want to do for a living. In the environment I grew up, you either wanted to become a medical doctor or did not get into engineering and science.
I feel like I always missed out on all sorts of possibilities. I’m glad I did pursue a career in engineering, though I cannot help but feel like there still is too little inspiration – especially for women – on what it means to be an engineer.
That’s why I joined a program during my PhD to introduce young girls into the fields of science and engineering—giving it my own water twist, of course. I felt like I could really connect with them and show their possibilities and powers.
There is so much we can do to inform, opinionate, and inspire young girls to pursue science careers. And that’s one of my drivers, too – let young people have options I missed out on in the past.”
Research management team member Inez: “Feel empowered, be your own role model and embrace diversity.”
“I grew up in a family of teachers. With my mom being passionate about biology and my dad about history, I naturally was driven by their fields, and I was good at those fields in school. Though I was nudged slowly into the sciences as my friends liked it too, more importantly, Marie Curie always has been a role model to me.
Marie Curie really showed strength and vision, she was a scientist who happened to be a woman. She pushed her life to the extreme for that. I admire her persistence, especially for a woman in that time. And still, today, it requires strength to pursue. Remarkably, only one generation before me, female school teachers would be fired from their jobs as they got married, expecting them to become housewives.
Luckily, we’ve entered a generation that refutes these ideas. That is more willing to embrace the vision of different people, including women— an essential element to innovation in science. I admire young women working on science today. They are as much an inspiration to me as Marie Curie was in my youth. We have come a long way, yet the inclusion of visions and diversity requires continuous efforts from society as a whole, including men.
Try to inspire others. Women should not try to mimic men, be your own role model and take the chances that you can get. That’s what I’ve been going for, and I feel well at place at Wetsus because of it.”
The resolution the UN General Assembly adopted: resolution A/RES/70/212