The gender gaps in science

Last Thursday February 11th it was International Day of Women and Girls in Science. My social networks are filled with posts on this topic, with women who have made history in science, with words of motivation, but also with frustrating stats.

It is a great honor to be able to celebrate this day as a woman in science, and more than that, to receive congratulations. It gives me great pride in being able to share this day with the rest of the women and girls who are interested and passionate about science, without forgetting those who previously made valuable contributions.

In honor of this very special day, it is my duty to comment on the gender disparate statistics in science, in a way that helps raise awareness about the issue and motivate all women who are passionate about science to pursue those dreams.

In my personal development as a scientist thus far, all of the supervisors and most of the professors have been men. Now, nothing is against them, I was lucky enough to meet the supervisors and tutors who have supported and motivated me throughout my career, some of them have even become great teachers. But this does not eliminate the fact that the problem is present, not only in science but also in technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM, for its acronym in English) and More diversity is urgently needed to fill this gap.

Let’s take a look at the stats. to me UNESCOOnly 35% of students enrolled in the fields of STEM are women, and only 28% of all researchers are women. Another example is that only 17 women won the Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry or Medicine, compared to 572 men …

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Why is there such a large discrepancy?

Not surprisingly, studies have concluded there is Various factors Which play a weighted role, as individual, family, social and school factors; It should be noted that Skill factors They do not fall into this. In addition, it has been shown that these gender differences start early and increase until higher education levels are reached. Therefore, women disproportionately drop out of STEM majors during the transition to the world of work or even during university studies, and thus, fewer women pursue masters and doctorates. There are also important contextual factors of a socio-economic nature that play a decisive role in this problem.

A lot of scientific studies are done thanks to the funding provided by the various organizations after a rather competitive process. This means that in most cases you will have to apply to bid for this funding. Therefore, these applications are very important to a candidate’s academic development. It is said, A. a study It showed that women received less funding than men, not because of the quality of implementation and work, but because of gender bias. This has implications for the number of scientific articles published by women. They are actually less than men. In conclusion, there is definitely a systemic problem in science that needs to be solved. And yes, it has gotten better little by little over the yearsBut the gender gap is still disproportionate.

The historical exclusion of women in science has caused sexism to remain a fairly common phenomenon in this area. The Matilda effect (“Matilda effect”, In English), a term coined by the historian Margaret W. Rossiter in 1993 It is defined as: “the tendency to not recognize the achievements of those scholars whose work is attributed to their male colleagues.” A classic example of this term is the case of the physicist and nuclear technology pioneer Dr. Lise Meitner. Dr. Meitner developed the studies that ultimately led to the discovery of nuclear fission, however, the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to her colleague. Otto Hahn. Another similar case is that of English chemistry, Rosalind Franklin Whose work on X-ray crystallography has been shared on DNA without their knowledge of scientists Watson and Crick, Who received information from Franklin’s supervisor, Mr. Wilkins. This was information essential For decoding the much-desired structure of DNA, but the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA was awarded only to Watson, Crick, and Wilkins.

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We all lose when something fundamental like science is not equal and there is no reason these conditions remain. The 2019 study Emphasizes that gender equality in the fields of science, medicine and global health brings great benefits to the social, economic and health levels.

If you are passionate about science yourself, I invite you not to reduce this gender gap, but to enable you to fulfill your dream. Because we need them! And if you have friends, daughters, granddaughters, cousins, nieces (etc.) who are passionate about science, encourage them to follow this path. It benefits us all.

This article represents the standards of the person who signed it. The published opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of this medium.

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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