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The importance of women in STEM

This year marks the 9th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Day, a day created by the United Nations General Assembly to acknowledge and appreciate the participation of women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science Day has a different theme selected each year that focuses on areas where people can discuss gender equality in science. This year, the theme is “Women in Science Leadership: A New Era for Sustainability”, and the sub-theme is “Think Science ... Think Peace”.

Here at EDT, we believe that gender equality is extremely important in the STEM industry, and we are passionate about creating opportunities for both genders to flourish academically and professionally.

Our brand new Broad-Based Engineering at the University of Salford Residential Insight into University course, will be running in summer 2024 and is a female only course for 30 students. It provides young women interested in engineering the chance to have a preview of what studying engineering at degree level would be like, as well as what their future could look like as a female engineer.

According to an article from STEM Women, the STEM sector has grown at a fast rate with over 1 million more STEM jobs created over the last 7 years. However, although this increase is positive, the representation of women in STEM remains low, as latest government figures show that women make up only 26% of the STEM workforce. At this current stage, it is estimated that we will not see equal representation in the STEM workforce until 2070.

Closing the gender gap in STEM will strongly benefit the sector, as it will increase the UK’s labour value by at least £2bn. Increasing the number of women in STEM will also create more female role models for young girls who would like to go into the sector one day, which will encourage them to pursue their STEM dreams.

Despite the evident work that needs to be done to have equal representation in STEM, there are a number of women who have massively contributed to the STEM sector, and who are recognised pioneers and role models both nationally and internationally.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a Polish pioneering physicist and chemist who specialised in radioactivity. She discovered two chemical elements and worked with radioactive isotopes. She is also the first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and the first to receive to Nobel’s in two different sciences. Maria Curie died in 1934, most likely due to being exposed to radiation during her research.

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were three African-American female mathematicians who made NASA’s early space missions possible. These women were also the inspiration behind the biographical hit drama film ‘Hidden Figures’. All three women helped put a man into orbit around the Earth, and they all worked at NASA in 1969 when Neil Armstrong was the first man to land on the moon.

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin was a British Scientist who is best recognised for discovering the molecular structure of DNA. She also contributed to finding a new outlook on viruses, which helped to lay the foundation for the field of structural virology. Rosalind Franklin died very early in 1958 at the age of 37 due to ovarian cancer, and many have argued that she should have been awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize for her work on DNA, as she was not awarded for her discovery during her lifetime.

Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik in an American actress and author best known for her role as neurologist Dr Amy Farrah Fowler in the popular sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’. She also has a real-life PhD in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles. Mayim Bialik is a huge advocate for getting more girls into science and has given lectures about the importance of STEM careers and research.


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