News | 27 January 2017

February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On February 11, 2017, the United Nations and partners will observe the second annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Per the UN website,

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. Unfortunately, women and girls continued to be excluded from participating fully in science.

Current statistics on women's and girls' participation in science, technology, innovation and engineering reflect persisting gender inequalities both horizontally - across disciplines - and vertically, as women make up a smaller and smaller share of the SITE workforce the further you progress along the career ladder, with very few represented at the highest levels of scientific leadership worldwide. It might be natural to assume that increasing numbers of girls studying STEM in primary and secondary school, and even entering scientific fields at the tertiary level, would translate into increased numbers in the workforce as well; however, research shows that this is not the case. Across all disciplines and regions of the world,  factors such as inherent bias, sexual harassment or otherwise unwelcoming workplace environments, and salary and promotion structures that punish women (but not men) with children are leading women to consistently drop out of science. It is important not to ignore these issues, but to subject them to rigorous study and to develop proactive institutional and governmental policies to mitigate them. The International Day of Women and Girls seeks to do that, as well as recognize the critical role of women's and girls' participation in science in reaching the targets of UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

To observe the occasion, UNESCO will hold a celebration on 10 February at its Paris headquarters with the theme of "Gender, Science and Sustainable Development: The Impact of Media." A  full day's program of will focus on the UN's policy and capacity development work to support more women and girls in science.  GenderInSITE Director Alice Abreu will present  at the event as part of a Round Table discussion on "Gender equality in science: myth, reality and future perspective." 

The full program of the event, information on how to participate, and more is available at 

In addition to the event at the United Nations, many groups and individuals are also planning to recognize the day with  smaller celebrations of their own and on social media. The Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) is planning a social media 'flash mob' for its members, asking them to upload a photo of themselves  'in action' (at work in the lab, giving a presentation, teaching, or researching) using the hashtag #IAmAWomanInScience. Another group including some members of the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) also plan to upload a photo of themselves at work, replacing their profile photos with the official logo for the day, below.