Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Today might seem like just any typical Monday. As we get busy for just another day, few of us realise that 11 February has, since 2015, marked the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It’s possible that that this day might eventually get its own Google Doodle, but why does it matter?
Background on International Day of Women and Girls in Science
A significant gender gap has persisted over time at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world. Despite the major progress of women gaining a higher education, studies have found that girls are still underrepresented in these fields. For many, a loss of interest in STEM subjects occurs as they reach adolescence. Globally, enrolments by women remains low and include 5% in natural science, mathematics and statistics; 3% in ICT; and 8% in engineering, manufacturing and construction. Within specialised roles, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women.
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 adopted resolution A/RES/70/212 declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Each year on this day since 2015 research institutions, universities, media, corporate bodies and various other subjects commemorate and celebrate yesterday, today and tomorrow’s achievements of women and girls in science.
Whilst there is still much to be done, major progress comes from how we can all support access to education at all levels and increase enrolment rates in schools, particularly for women and girls.
Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders
Having a good mentor is one way to build a foundation and accelerate the development of key talent. This is because supporting girls in science today means they will mentor and teach the girls of tomorrow. However, there may be challenges for some women to find a mentor that they can relate to, which means that they can miss out on this support, and as a consequence, may not progress through to leadership as quickly as their male colleagues.
Across our team at Envirolab, our fearless female leaders involved in the upcoming 2019 RACI National Mentoring Program were asked to share why they followed a career in science and their personal pledges to help accelerate gender parity in the global workplace and beyond.
Joining the team in 2011 as Business Development Manager for South Australia, Alex Stenta, pictured on left, established the Envirolab Adelaide office focusing on her technical background in environmental testing and strong commitment to client services. When asked about the source of her inspiration, Alex said, “I’ve always been fascinated in the why and how of the world and studying science enabled me to answer some of those big questions.”
By being involved in the RACI National Mentoring Program, she explained, “I am happy to promote and foster ideas, networks and relationships for up and coming young scientists to enable them to get a head start in their careers.”
Originally joining our team in Perth as the Organics Supervisor, it was not long before Pamela, on right, was immediately noticed for her attention to detail, strength in system operations and ability to lead teams in training programs. Pamela became the Assistant Operations Manager in early 2015 and then the Laboratory Manager – Melbourne in 2016. She found her inspiration to work in science as a teenager. “I was really good at science in high school.”
Upon commencing her tertiary studies, she explained, “I wanted a career that was challenging, yet still hands-on and practical.” She also said, “For me it’s so important to keep sharing my vision with others so that more women and girls remain motivated to study science and make a better world through a career in science.”
Instrumental in setting up the Melbourne laboratory, Analisa Mathrick joined Envirolab in April 2012. Recognised for her strong customer service focus, Analisa was promoted in early 2016 to the role of Business Development Manager. “Chemistry was my favourite subject and I remember being so inspired by my teacher.”
Her teacher allowed her to feed on her sense of curiosity and she has not looked back. Commenting on her passion for science, Analisa added, “I’m inspired by how we are progressing, but there is still so much we can do, and that’s what I want to be part of – especially if I can help inspire tomorrow’s leaders!”
Workplace Gender Equality at Envirolab
This year, the theme is "Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth" and it supports the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goals which focus on gender equality and the environment.
In acknowledgement of this year’s theme and #WomenInScience, Envirolab is proud to be committed to developing our people and creating a culture where everyone, regardless of gender or background, has the opportunity to succeed. For many years, Envirolab has been compliant with the Workplace Gender Equality Act, and has been consistently had more than 50% females in senior management role, ahead of industry benchmark.
The power to bring change and to keep moving forward truly lies in our hands. As part of moving forward, we are looking forward to continue supporting a variety of projects this year that will continue to pave the way and reach gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
References and More Information
You can read more about International Day of Women and Girls in Science on the UNESCO website. Statistics and videos are also available for viewing on why it is important to support women and girls in STEM.