Written by Laura Eamon
Last week, women and girls were celebrated across the globe for International Day of Women and Girls in Science. So many organizations posted online highlighting some of the incredible women-led projects and teams they’re proud of. This year’s Super Bowl even had their first all-female flight crew for the military flyover before the game. In 2020, Nova Scotia Health performed what might have been the first liver transplant with an all-female surgical team. In 2019, news broke from Lunenburg about possibly the first all-female lobster fishing crew on the south shore of Nova Scotia. These successes are so important to celebrate because it hasn’t always been this way, and we still have a long way to go.
A significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world. Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes discourage girls and women away from science related fields. Women and racialized persons in science have experienced discrimination, harassment, and even personal harm. By keeping our diverse perspectives out of the science fields, research and innovation outcomes have been narrowed, limited, and lessened.
To combat statistics like the ones listed above, United Nations has declared February 11 International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This year’s theme was IDEAS - Innovate, Demonstrate, Elevate, Advance, Sustain: Bringing everyone forward for sustainable and equitable development. Women, racialized persons, and gender diverse people can help translate knowledge between science and society. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution not only to economic development of the world but to progress across all the goals and targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. The process of how we conduct research is just as important as the results of the research.
As the Events and Communications Coordinator, I am not directly involved in the scientific process of operating Back to the Sea. However, I get to dabble in the art and social science of marketing, fundraising, and economics. I also get to work alongside incredible volunteers and staff who have so much knowledge and experience to share. I spoke to a couple of women involved with Back to the Sea to celebrate science, and it was so validating and special to hear from them. Keep reading to find out why!
Kaitlin (Communications Committee) told me, “Before, I thought the only way you ‘do’ science was to make a career out of it. I am excited to say that there are many ways to ‘do’ science.” She loves volunteering, reading, and being wowed by science in her daily life. To celebrate science, she recommends staying involved and staying curious.
When asked why it’s important to have women on the team, Rachel (Communications Committee) said, “Equality in the workspace adds more perspectives which reduces the possibility of bias and conflict.” She supports other women and girls by telling them they don’t need to have a linear career. “Once you get your feet wet or your hands dirty, the learning never stops, and you never know where your next adventure can take you.”
Laurel (Program Manager) has been a mentor for girls in science programs, and she says, “It’s so important for young women to have real-life role models to look up to and show them what they are capable of accomplishing.” She points out the huge drop in the number of girls interested in science once they hit teenage years, so Laurel has a strong message of hope for these young women: “if you find science fascinating–even if it’s hard–stick with it, and explore all the different facets of the subject.
Let’s work to bring into the spotlight, highlight the impact, and promote the contributions and research outcomes of female scientists. If you’re a woman working within STEM, give strength and knowledge to the girls out there looking for inspiration. Tell us how your job is STEM related and what it means to you to be involved.
Inequality in science and the case for a new agenda | PNAS
Women in science: Materials 2021 - Archive ouverte HAL
International Day of Women and Girls in Science | United Nations