Female scientists dismantling gender stereotypes: the International Day of Women and Girls in Science
On February 11th each year, the world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, an initiative led by UNESCO and UN-Women in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners. This day aims to promote full and equal access to science for women and girls, shedding light on the challenges and gender disparities still prevalent in the scientific field.
The current situation of women in science
Statistical data reveals a complex and persistent picture. Despite significant progress over the years, women make up only 33.3% of global researchers. Notably, while women constitute 40% of computer science and informatics graduates, they represent a mere 22% of professionals in the field of artificial intelligence, indicating a pronounced gender disparity in cutting-edge disciplines.
Despite their competence and talent, women continue to face substantial challenges in their scientific careers. Research funding allocated to women is often lower than their male counterparts, contributing to shorter and less remunerative careers. Only 12% of members in national scientific academies are women, and their representation in top-level positions remains significantly limited.
Promoting gender equality: a global priority
Recognizing the role of women and girls in science as agents of change, the 9th International Day of Women and Girls in Science focuses on the theme “Women and Girls in Science Leadership, a New Era for Sustainability” with the subtheme “Think Science… Think Peace.” Leaders, experts, government officials, and representatives from around the world will discuss women’s leadership in achieving the three pillars of Sustainable Development: economic prosperity, social justice, and environmental integrity.
Gender equality has always been a core issue for the United Nations, with the belief that it will make a crucial contribution not only to the economic development of the world but to progress across all the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well, from improving health to combating climate change.
Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to addressing global challenges and active participation of women in scientific and technological communities expands the pool of talented researchers, bringing in fresh perspectives, talent, and creativity.
This day serves as a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities, emphasizing the need to strengthen their participation.
In the ongoing challenge to address gender disparity in the field of science, Menarini Group emerges as an exemplary model. Defying the global trend of female underrepresentation, an impressive 70% of the personnel engaged in the group’s Research and Development are women.
The story of Monica Binaschi, Head of global Preclinical and Translational Sciences at Menarini, is that of a woman who was able turn her dream into reality:
“Ever since I was a child, my dream was to be a scientist, but little did I know the challenges that awaited me, especially as a young woman in Italy with limited opportunities. Hard work and full dedication to life science research allowed me to start my career in Menarini. Today, after many years in Menarini I can tell an adventurous story full of challenges and achievements, but I was always surrounded and supported by a great team and a visionary Company.” – she recalls; “Being a female scientist at Menarini required not just scientific prowess but also an unwavering dedication to excel while juggling work and family life. I owe a huge thanks to my family, who has been my pillar of support whenever I needed it.
Looking back at my years with Menarini I feel proud of the contribution the Company made to the wellbeing of millions of patients across the globe in various therapeutic areas and the progress Menarini is making in Oncology fill me with excitement and hope for the future.”
A collective commitment for change
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science serves as a call to collective commitment for change. Dismantling gender barriers in scientific and technological fields is essential.
Only through an inclusive approach that values the skills and perspectives of all individuals can we effectively address global challenges. Promoting gender equality is not solely the responsibility of international institutions but requires action from every individual, company, and organization.
By celebrating and supporting women in science, we contribute to building a future that is inclusive, equitable, and innovative for all.