The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said that gender bias in science has resulted in drug tests that treat the female body as an aberration, and search algorithms that perpetuate discrimination, but the solution is simple: increase the numbers of women working in the field and support the girls hoping to join them one day.
In his message for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, observed this Saturday, who appealed for concrete action to increase their ranks.
“On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we highlight a simple equation: More women and girls in science equals better science,” said Mr. Guterres.
“Women and girls bring diversity to research, expand the pool of science professionals, and provide fresh perspectives to science and technology, benefiting everyone.”
Theoretically, science should be open to everyone, yet it is still overwhelmingly male.
Even though more girls are in school today than ever before, women and girls are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Just one in three researchers is a woman, and women account for just 35 per cent of graduates in STEM-related fields.
Their numbers are even smaller in cutting edge fields such as Artificial Intelligence, where only one in five professionals is a woman.
“If these gender inequalities are so significant, it is because they are deeply rooted in our societies,” said Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General, in her message for the Day.
“It is because of the persistence of gender stereotypes and prejudices, which sometimes persuade girls that scientific studies are not for them, despite their tremendous potential.”