The International Day of Women and Girls in Science. A day that recognizes the critical role women and girls play in science and technology and promotes full and equal access to participation in science for women and girls.
Why does this matter?
Studies show that while more girls are attending school than before, girls are significantly underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. This sprouts from a lack in interest in STEM as they approach aadolescence, which stems from myths and challenges attached to women and girls in STEM.
This begins with gender stereotyping, in which deeply engrained attitudes, values, norms and prejudices are used to justify and maintain the historical relations of power of men over women as well as sexist attitudes that hold back the advancement of women. Gender stereotyping has limiting impacts on a girl’s development of her natural talents, abilities, educational and professional and life opportunities.
A closely related challenge women and girls face in STEM is sexism. In academia, women encounter sexist behaviors that push them away from STEM related courses. Those who tolerate it through school face greater challenges in the workplace. STEM workplaces are still heavily male dominated and can be extremely sexist. Many women who try to come into these male dominated organizations may find themselves facing unfriendly environments and difficult work cultures.
Additionally, women face mentorship challenges in STEM fields. Having a mentor in one’s discipline improves career paths and opportunities. Mentor helps address situations which seems difficult for a novice and shed more light on the practical aspect of a career. Women face a lot of difficulties in a STEM related career and having the advice of a woman who had been there can greatly improve and motivate women in or new to the field.
Women are often pressurised to prove their professional worth and commitment by working harder or being on probation. When a career spinster decides to have a family she is questioned about her commitment to her career and often confronted with a decision to choose between having a family or her career. Not failing to mention the occasional income inequality.
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science focuses on the reality that science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of development goals and bridging the gender gap in STEM is vital to creating infrastructure, services and solutions that work for all people.
What can be done about it?
1. Get girls and women interested in STEM subjects and careers.
2. Counteract gender stereotypes and inequality.
3. Fight sexism.
4. Create environments that support women in STEM.
5. Provision of access to women in STEM to aspiring girls and women. This can be done by seminars and enlightenment in schools, colleges, workplaces and also excursions to STEM Fields.
Female Representation in Forensic Science
Forensic Science is a complex discipline that involves many different fields such as biology, chemistry, medicine, physics, law, policing. Nowadays it plays a fundamental role in many criminal cases whose solution and consequent delivery of justice depends on the integrity of forensic evidence and the accuracy of scientific analyses.
Forensic science plays a crucial role in criminal investigations because it allows crimes to be solved using scientific information and fills the gaps left by a traditional investigation.
Forensic science a STEM related course seems a very exciting career for women, as evidenced by the fact that women numerically exceed men in both undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs.
Women see forensics as a way to improve society and help others. Exposure to the science spikes an interest and finding role models is comparatively easier. Women also tend to be more detail oriented, which comes in handy on the job when matching up fingerprints or comparing striations on bullets. Many women also like forensics field because it works better with a family.
Some of influential women in this field are Clea Koff, Sara Basil, Jan C. Garavagila, Frances LeeFrances Glessner Lee, and Pornitp Rojanasunan.
The involvement and interest of women in forensic science is a great step towards motivating and increasing the participation of women and girls in STEM.
We recognize and applaud notable Nigerian women in STEM such as Professor Grace Alele-Williams, Francisca Nneka Okeke, Deborah Ajakaiye, Olabisi Ugbebor, Ayoka Olufunmilayo Adebambo, Adenike Osofisan, Avril Eyewu-Edero and others for reaching a great level in their disciplines despite myths and challenges attached to women and girls in STEM.
By: Oyebanjo Esther Adeola