International Day of Women and Girls in Science

What day is it?

Women make up half of the planet’s population, and therefore half of humanity’s potential in all fields of activity, including science. But when we hear the words “scientist” or “scientist”, we most often imagine a man in this role. Historically, women have always considered raising children or a humanitarian profession to be their vocation. Despite the fact that the world owes many important inventions and researches to women, they still make up less than a third of scientists. Aware of the importance of ensuring their free access to science, the UN founded International Day of Women and Girls in Sciencewhich is celebrated every year on February 11.

How did the idea to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science come about?

From ancient history there are known references to women who were well educated and engaged in science for their time. However, most of them devoted themselves to medicine, as well as philosophy and other humanitarian fields.

The first female mathematician

Hypatia of Alexandria, who lived in the IV-V centuries, is considered one of the first women who left a noticeable mark in the exact sciences. She was engaged in mathematics and astronomy, invented the astrolabe, the distiller and the principle of the bubble effect, which is still used in the aquapass. Hypatia’s contribution to algebra and geometry is significant. She taught at the Alexandria School, and many young people eager for knowledge from different countries came to her lectures. Unfortunately, Hypatia fell victim to Christian fanatics who accused her of witchcraft and eventually killed her.

During the Middle Ages, women did not have the same access to education as men. Most women who sought knowledge lived in monasteries, which were centers of enlightenment at the time. Medicine, literature, and philosophy were traditionally the occupations for women.

Astronomer Maria Margaret Winkelmann

For a long time, women did not have access to formal education, so they tried to collaborate in scientific research with their fathers, brothers and husbands, and this was often the only way to realize their interest in science. So, for example, Maria Margaret Winkelmann, an astronomer of the 18th century, had to attribute her discoveries to a man, because women’s achievements in the scientific world were not taken seriously by anyone.

Ada Lovelace and the Computing Machine of the Future

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous English poet George Byron, was an exception to the rule. Since childhood, her mother persistently taught her mathematics and it bore fruit. Ada created three programs for the not-yet-existent computing machine. She also has the ingenious idea that computers can operate not only with numbers, but also with other objects. The fact that all this happened in the 19th century seems incredible.

Nobel Prize laureate Maria Sklodowska-Curie

Maria Sklodowska was born in Poland in 1867. She had a great desire for knowledge and excelled at school. But the university in Warsaw did not accept women, so Maria went to study at the Sorbonne in Paris, where she obtained a master’s degree in physics and mathematics.

Later, she became interested in the work of researching radioactive chemical elements, and her husband Pierre Curie gave up his own career and began to help his wife. In 1898, the couple discovered radium and polonium, and in 1902 they succeeded in isolating radium from uranium ore. Maria Sklodowska-Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, but she was able to receive this award a few years later for the second time – already for achievements in the field of chemistry. Unfortunately, she died of a disease caused by radioactive damage to the body during numerous scientific experiments.

Rosalind Franklin and DNA

Rosalind Franklin, a female biophysicist from Great Britain, made a discovery that many scientists consider the most important discovery of the 20th century. In the early 1950s, she worked on an X-ray structural analysis that made it possible to visualize the double helix of human DNA. But Franklin’s key role in this work was constantly devalued by her male colleagues. After all, the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the DNA model was awarded to them, and Rosalind Franklin was able to receive recognition only posthumously.

The woman who invented the dishwasher

Not only revolutionary discoveries in fundamental science belong to women, but also technical inventions without which it is impossible to imagine the present. Few people know that the dishwasher was invented by a woman – the American Josephine Cochrane back in 1886. But in their inventions, women were not limited to the household.

Car wipers. Car muffler. Wi-Fi

Car “wipers” are the idea of ​​Mary Anderson, patented by her in 1903. The car muffler was also invented by a woman – Elle Dolores Jones in 1917. The communication system on the basis of which Wi-Fi was created was invented in 1942 by the American actress Hedy Lamarr.

The work of women scientists was often underestimated, and information about many of them is incomplete and fragmentary. However, it is impossible to list all the women who changed world science and technology for the better. The facts show that women are not inferior to men in terms of mental abilities, courage and perseverance in any activity, including science.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science in History

  • 1843
    Ada Lovelace wrote a program for a computer that existed then only in theory. Many years after Lovelace’s death, her program was used for a real machine, and this woman is considered the first programmer in history.
  • 1903
    Marie Sklodowska-Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics.
  • 1987
    The international organization “Women in Science for Developing Countries” was founded on the basis of the World Academy of Sciences.
  • 1988
    UNESCO and the L’Oréal Corporation created a joint program “Women in Science” and established the “L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Award”. It is annually awarded to five women for outstanding scientific achievements.
  • 2010
    In order to achieve gender equality as soon as possible and expand the rights and opportunities of women, a special structure “UN Women” was created at the United Nations.
  • 2015
    February 11 was declared the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by a resolution of the UN General Assembly.

Frequent Questions and answers on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

What percentage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) students are girls?

Girls make up 35% of students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the world.

Which European countries have the most women among scientists?

The top five EU countries with the largest number of female scientists include Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Portugal and Denmark.

What proportion of inventors are women?

In the world, only 13% of patents for inventions are received by women. It is predicted that gender equality in the field of inventions will be achieved only in 2070.

Which countries have the fewest female scientists?

The UAE, Iran, Uzbekistan, Japan, Cameroon, Saudi Arabia are the countries in which women are least represented in science.

What is the percentage of female scientists in Ukraine?

Among research scientists of Ukrainian scientific institutions, women make up about 46%.

How to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science?

Ukraine, together with other states, joins the celebration of this event. Women working in the scientific field, receive greetings from state leaders. Events devoted to the contribution of women to science are held in higher educational institutions and research institutions. Open days are organized for children – in this way, schoolgirls gain motivation for studies and a career in the scientific and technical field.

Other organizations and institutions join the celebration — for example, the Center for Gender Culture, the Museum of Women’s and Gender History, libraries. By visiting various art projects and exhibitions, everyone can learn about outstanding women in the field of STEM from ancient times to the present.

Also within limits International Day of Women and Girls in Science contests are held among young girls who are interested in scientific research and try to implement their projects or inventions.

Despite the fact that only 12% of female protagonists in movies are female scientists, you can find an interesting movie and watch it on this very day. For example, it can be the picture “Dr. Schutz Award” about Marie Sklodowska-Curie or “Hidden Figures” – about female mathematicians, without whom the flights of the first American astronauts would not have happened.

Why is this day important?

The field of STEM is developing very rapidly today, especially advanced technology and engineering. Women’s representation gives these industries even greater efficiency and opportunity.

However, society can get more female scientists only if young girls are encouraged to study and further work in science. It is not for nothing that the name of the event mentions not only women, but also girls. Often, girls’ interest in scientific activities is not supported by either school or parents, and eventually fades away. It is important for girls to realize their potential in STEM, so it is necessary to change the approach of educators to their participation in scientific projects, research, experiments and other similar activities on an equal basis with boys.

In addition, there are many difficulties that women face when choosing a career as a scientist. In the world, there are still numerous stereotypes and prejudices regarding the superiority of men in mental abilities, the inability of women to think logically. In addition, women often have to combine studies and work with caring for children and the family, and society is just beginning to learn to understand this. All this affects the fact that the salaries of female scientists are lower than those of their male colleagues, they occupy leadership positions in science much less often and publish fewer scientific works.

Ago International Day of Women and Girls in Science calls on the global community to help women succeed in STEM fields, and engages women and girls themselves to help as many of them as possible become outstanding researchers and inventors.

When will we celebrate International day of women and girls in science?

Year Date Weekday
2021 February 11 Thursday
2022 February 11 Friday
2023 February 11 Saturday
2024 February 11 Sunday
2025 February 11 Tuesday

International Day of Women and Girls in Science


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