Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science


Created in recognition of the vital work of females in science, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated globally on 11 February.

Designated an awareness day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), science teachers have a vital role to play in promoting the day’s key messages.

The theme for 2020, ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth’ recognises that gender equality and science are both vital for the attainment of internationally agreed development goals.

It’s also an opportunity for science teachers and secondary school staff to raise the profile of science globally, with creative lessons and tasks designed to enhance engagement with the subject.

Why is the day important?

According to a report from 2017, titled Realising Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as many as 65% of children currently entering primary school will do a job that does not yet exist.

Girls are also hugely underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, a situation that worsens from primary school into GCSE and A-level.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science, therefore, represents an opportunity to encourage female pupils to consider STEM careers and to narrow the gender gap.

What can science teachers do?

Science teachers can play a pivotal role in showcasing women and girls from the world of science, helping to inspire the generations of the future.

From recognising great innovators and scientists that have helped to shape the planet, to busting myths and stereotypes, secondary teachers can encourage pupils to consider subjects and careers they may not previously have thought about.

Science teachers may want to focus on the careers of women that have had major impacts in the sciences, including 18th century Italian scientist Laura Bassi, and double Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie to name just two.

Since its creation, 20 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine and the awareness day is a fantastic opportunity for secondary teachers to explore their works and to encourage classroom discussion.

The inspirational scientists from all walks of life are a testament to what can be achieved by women in science and can serve to showcase where a STEM career could take young female pupils in future.

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