Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. Professor Sarah Gilbert. Kathrin Jansen. These are just a few of the female scientists leading efforts to develop vaccines that can halt COVID-19, the virus that has taken over 2.2 million lives around the world. 

While women scientists like these are contributing to life-saving breakthroughs, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are female, according to UNESCO. Given this, there’s little doubt that the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are missing out on untapped talent. That’s not just bad for women and girls – it’s bad for everyone. 

Today, 11 February, is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Implemented by UNESCO and UN-Girls, International Day of Women and Girls in Science is a perfect time to encourage young women and girls to pursue careers in science and technology.

Currently, just 30% of students who are female choose to study STEM, according to UNESCO. On top of this, women and girls who do go into STEM often struggle against bias.

When women and girls are deprived of these opportunities, it means there will be fewer experts to help solve the major problems that threaten our planet and our species. More scientists means more experts to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges, like climate change and global health disparities, just two of the 17 sustainability goals the United Nations aims to achieve by 2030. 

“If we are to be able to address the enormous challenges of the twenty-first century – from climate change to technological disruption – we will need to rely on science and the mobilization of all our resources. It is for this reason that the world must not be deprived of the potential, the intelligence, or the creativity of the thousands of women who are victims of deep-seated inequality and prejudice,” wrote Audrey Azoulay, Director General, in her message for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science last year.

How to participate in International Day of Women and Girls in Science:

See more about Girls in STEM by exploring IEEE TryEngineering.