Updated: Feb 18, 2022
Physically, men and women might be different, but when discussing opportunities and abilities, we stereotype women as being analytically and intellectually weaker than their counterparts. When a man is 50, has three children, and is career-driven, we do not question his decisions. Then why it does not hold for women? Why do women prefer to publish their work in double-blind peer-reviewed journals? Why is it all about Barbies and princesses, and our young girls do not get the chance to play with structural toys and build something?
Women have broken barriers and gender stereotypes along the way! Their work has inspired complex space missions and led to discovering DNA inside a cell. They have contributed to solving complex mathematical calculations and pioneered the environmental movement. But more commonly, their contributions are discouraged and overlooked, or they are not given due credit and recognition for their work.
Can you imagine the number of difficulties that Marie Curie faced in studying radioactivity in becoming the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields? If it weren't for her contributions, nuclear disasters would have been a mystery, and eventually, we wouldn't have got great shows like Breaking Bad and Chernobyl to binge-watch! Nothing could have revolutionized the contemporary environmental movement if Rachel Carlson had not questioned the impact of chemical pesticides on climate change! Would James Watson and Francis Crick get credit for determining the structure of DNA when most of their discoveries relied on the work of Rosalind Franklin? Even the success of 'NASA's Perseverance Rover 2020 mission was vested in the hands of the Indian-American scientist Swati Mohan.
According to UNESCO data (2014-2016), only around 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Gender mainstreaming is one of the significant 2030 sustainable development goals. As the under-representation of women in science, technology, and engineering is still prevalent, upliftment and empowerment of women in all disciplines are now vital objectives. Although the number of girls getting educated in elementary schools has had a slight increase, the number of women majoring in STEM is not enough to bridge the enormous gender disparity worldwide.
Men and Women standing up for women and backing them up are incredibly essential, especially in male-dominated fields and arenas. Women's empowerment in the field of science is a huge obstacle, especially in developing countries, where abolishing deep-rooted patriarchy and gender-based biases have been a Herculean task. Systematic barriers, including social, cultural, employment, institutional, monetary, and familial, which diminish women's representation, cannot be overlooked.
Women scientists bring experiential perspectives to their research work. They spend their lives raising awareness and setting standards to get due credit for their work in the STEM field. Engineering solutions catered to society must consider the physiological differences among genders, and thus it becomes even more crucial to incorporate women's viewpoints. Tales of perseverance, determination, and unwavering love for science remain untold only because they are women.
Although women are now getting their dues, there is still a long way. As a woman who has just started on the path to contributing to science, I have constantly learnt the principles of gender diversity. Surrounded by such incredible women in science, I have garnered the ability to learn, evaluate, and experiment, eventually empowering and uplifting other women in this discipline to make science more inclusive!
Editor: Dr. Bharti Singal and Dr. Jyoti Chhibber-Goel