11 February marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It’s a day established by the UN General Assembly to address global gender inequality in STEM,highlighting why women still struggle to achieve gender equality in the field, and promoting the full and equal participation of women and girls in science.
Women make up half of our Australiancommunity and the number of women completing university degrees in STEM is equivalent to male counterparts. Yet there has been no change in the ‘scissor graph’ demographic showing that women continue to be excluded from fully participating in science, with less than 30% of researchers worldwide being women.
The award of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science to its first female recipient, Prof Jenny Graves AO brought recognition of excellence by a female scientist into the mainstream media.
The Australian government has implemented the Women in STEM Decadal Plan, to provide a 10-year roadmap to identify the barriers and enablers that affect women’s participation, retention and success in STEM from school through to careers. There is an Expert Working Group that consults with community forums and selected stakeholders but it is essential women participate in high-level processes which shape the science agenda.