Why an International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Kurago has pledged itself to diversity. We firmly believe that a variety of viewpoints enriches and improves both our own work and society as a whole. Nonetheless, and although our figures are above the average for our sector, the percentage of women in our organization is still a long way away from parity. Our aim is to improve this ratio, which explains why celebrating dates such as these is still essential to continue prompting a conversation that fosters change.

The UN officially introduced the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015, with the aim of shedding light on those women that work in the fields of  science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and, especially, nurture a scientific vocation among younger girls.

The reason is very simple: only 16% of those currently working in the field of STEM in Spain are women, with this being aggravated by the fact that adolescent girls seem to lose interest in going on to study a degree related to digital technologies, with a figure of 0.7% for those specifically doing so (according to the latest study conducted by the Social Observatory of la Caixa Foundation).

The study also features another interesting fact, namely, that men and women record very similar marks in STEM degree courses, with men scoring higher in mathematics and women doing so in architecture and engineering subjects, for example. Furthermore, women account for a higher number of subjects passed.

Only 16% of professionals dedicated to the STEM area are women in Spain and only 0.7% of adolescents show interest in studying a degree related to digital technologies.

These figures are simply a snapshot that shows men and women are more or less on a par once they have begun studying STEM degree courses. The biggest difference therefore corresponds to the tiny percentage of women that initially choose to study these courses, begging the question why is this?

The answer is that almost all these fields of study suffer from a lack of female role models and are blighted by the stereotypes that often prevail in the environment surrounding young girls. Up to a certain age, girls and boy do not identify careers by gender, yet there comes a turning point when both sexes start to assume that there are certain jobs that are better suited to boys and others to girls. This, together with a lack of role models, means that girls do not feel motivated to study for STEM degrees.

Numerous initiatives have been taken from the very earliest stages of schooling with a view to closing this gap, such as this international day, designed to highlight those women working in STEM occupations. One such project is called Inspira STEAM which is being conducted by Deusto University (Bilbao, Spain) to foster a scientific and technological vocation among girls. It involves awareness and advocacy sessions presented by women working in the field of research, science, and technology, and is crucial for continuing to make inroads in this matter. Kurago has been involved in this project for the past two years. Ms. Nuria Amezcoa is Unit Manager at Kurago and the project’s mentor. She told us about her experiences some time ago.

The answer is that almost all these fields of study suffer from a lack of female role models and are blighted by the stereotypes that often prevail in the environment surrounding young girls.

It is up to all of us to help create these environments, encouraging girls and teenagers to change their mindsets and freely choose their own future careers. In our case at Kurago, each and every one of the women working here is a role model that girls can identify with, so that more of them will find an example to follow and we will manage to increase the number of young women that decide to pursue their studies in STEM.

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