Bill Gates, Charles Babbage, and Steve Jobs… the majority of us know these names, right?
What about Grace Hopper? As her creation of the compiler program led to the development of a universal computer language. Or, Hedy Lamarr? Noted as the co-creator of World War I “Spread Spectrum Radio,” which is seen as the pioneer to today’s wireless technology. How about, Ada Lovelace? Who is responsible for the first written instructions for the first computer program. Not to mention… Anna Easley, who developed and implemented the code that led to the hybrid car battery…
Women’s contribution to science and technology often goes unrecognized, and their presence is very much unrepresented in the tech world today, where female Information and Communication Technology (ICT) workers account for only 24% of the ICT workforce! (ICTC) According to UNESCO, this underrepresentation is partly due to the persistence of gender stereotypes resulting in a challenge in attracting women to STEM careers. Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science-related fields (UN Org). These biases set in early—for instance, a study in the journal Science showed that by age 6, girls are already less likely than boys to describe their own gender as ‘brilliant’, and less likely to join an activity labelled for ‘very, very smart’ kids (UN Women). In response to these biases and to foster equal access to and participation in STEM for women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/212 declaring February 11th as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
In honour of this day, ICTC has collaborated with the Canada Science and Technology Museum and Ingenium Canada to host a CyberDay, which will take place on February 12th. ICTC CyberDays provide students with hands-on, minds-on interactive one-day learning workshops in the form of cyber defence competitions. Here, students learn about the cybersecurity threats we are facing and the skills needed to safeguard our privacy and protect the integrity of Canadian companies and governments. They learn in real-time, the skills necessary to secure a network in a fun and interactive way. This interactive skills workshop is intended to be fun and engaging while at the same time a learning experience that will begin to prepare students to be safe and secure in the digital world. ICTC hopes that this event will also spark interest in ICT in the female participants, and make sure the girls participating leave the workshop knowing that they are indeed, brilliant, and very, very smart kids. Learn more about the event here.
Women and girls are far less likely to earn degrees in STEM; only 18 percent of female students versus 37 percent of male students are likely to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field (Canada). This imbalance of women in STEM cannot continue to go unchallenged. Young women and girls need to be encouraged to explore and engage with science and technology, and nations around the world need to be more proactive in fostering this interest. Through the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science and the recognition it provides, along with events such as ICTC’s CyberDays that are sparked by this day, there is hope in helping young women realize and pursue their potential.
Follow the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science campaign, and show your love for females in STEM across the world!