By Tracy Pannozzo, Humanitas Global
We attract whatever we desire or expect, so says the law of attraction.
Based on that, what if businesses and countries around the world desired, even expected the women and girls in their communities to learn and pursue math and science? I believe the world would experience a knowledge explosion, a global Renaissance that would strengthen economies, fuel invention and solve many of the social ills of our time.
Hunger and malnutrition could be eradicated, infectious disease halted in its tracks, and social and economic inequality undone because more people around the world would be educated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and be able to use that knowledge to address these issues.
Sound far-fetched? Perhaps to some, but United Nation’s Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and the heads of 169 UN Member States believe we have what it takes to meet these and the other goals in the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030.
To do this, however, the female half of the world’s population must be allowed access to education (in places where they are not) and encouraged to develop fluency in STEM subjects.
It isn’t a matter of whether or not she is capable - She CAN do it. A worldwide study by the American Psychological Association found few gender differences in math abilities among boys and girls. The study also found that girls will perform at the same level as boys in math when they have the right education tools and visible female role models. This also makes a compelling case for cultivating STEM educators who are willing and able to instruct and inspire female students.
The world needs women and girls to be attracted to careers in math, science and technology. It is the responsibility of men and women already working in these fields to accept new female recruits and provide an encouraging environment in which they can learn and grow. If we don’t, it will hurt us all.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) focused on the issue of gender gaps in STEM jobs both at the 2016 annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland and in its Future of Jobs report. According to the WEF, “leaders must address the chronic problem of getting more women into STEM—science, technology, engineering, mathematics—professions.”
It will take a global effort to attract women and girls from every nation to math and science fields and convince them to stay. Parents and leaders from community, government and industry all play a critical role in providing access and encouragement. Many have heeded the call, and some for quite a while now.
Last December the United Nations adopted a resolution proclaiming February 11 the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. To commemorate the first observance, a high-level forum takes place today at UN Headquarters.
On the first-ever International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s salute some of the many STEM initiatives inspiring and educating women and girls around the globe.
- Australia: Science in Australia Gender Equity, Women in Science AUSTRALIA
- Brazil: Ciência sem Fronteiras (Brazil Scientific Mobility Program)
- Canada: Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology,
- hEr VOLUTION, Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology
- Europe: TechSisters, European Centre for Women and Technology
- Estonia: Digigirls,
- Ghana: Tech Needs Girls
- India: Indian Girls Code
- Finland: Rails Girls
- Malaysia: National Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Malaysia
- Singapore: Destination Imagination
- United Arab Emirates: The second annual Dubai All–Women Hackathon
- United Kingdom: WISE
- United States: 1000 Girls — 1000 Futures, org, Million Women Mentors, The Scientista Foundation,
- Worldwide: Organization for Women in Science in the Developing World, Girls in Tech, Little Miss Geek, Technovation
Finally, a challenge. Rewrite the equation. Make it okay for women and girls to learn and get “geeky” smart. Educate them. Mentor them. Fund them. Hire them. Close the global gender gap in math and science. Then together, we can transform the world we share.