International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Every year on February 11, attention is drawn to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. On this day, attention is drawn to how important girls and women are for the fields of science and technology. The fact is: a lot of research potential is lost because there are far too few well-educated or highly qualified women working in research worldwide.

There is always talk of gender equality everywhere. We know that there has already been progress on this issue in many areas. However, especially in the STEM subjects (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology), we are still a long way off. This doesn't just apply to the business world. Deficits can already be seen at all levels of the education system. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics reported that the global proportion of women in research and development work is just under 30 percent. 1

Stereotype "nerd" scares off girls

Why is it that the STEM sector is a male domain? According to Barbara Schwarze, Professor of Gender and Diversity Studies at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences and Chair of the Competence Center for Technology - Diversity - Equal Opportunity, lack of qualification is not the reason. Rather, it's the firmly entrenched "prejudices" against STEM professions: technology is sweaty or computer scientists are just nerds. Such stereotypes scare off girls in particular and make the occupational fields unattractive. On top of that, being a woman in the STEM field makes you stand out. This starts at a young age. Boys are expected to have an interest in technology, or they see it as normal. If, on the other hand, a girl is interested in the field, it is immediately seen as something "special. This continues in the same way at university. The fact that STEM courses are male-dominated means that as a woman you always stand out and are, so to speak, on the "plate". According to Ursula Köhler, spokesperson for the women's specialist group in the German Informatics Society, many women switch to another occupational group after a few years: "Because it's very exhausting to assert yourself in a working world with such male connotations." 2

The goal: to inspire more women to take up STEM professions

A change in the STEM field can be seen thanks to massive efforts. According to statistics from the German Federal Employment Agency, the number of female students in STEM fields has increased by 75 percent since 2008. This is almost certainly due to the large number of initiatives, such as Komm. mach MINT or Girls' Day.

Our university is also making a strong case for women in STEM fields. Many female professors at HHN are committed to making STEM subjects more interesting for female students. For example, the university participates annually in the Girls'Day participates or organizes "MINT on your MIND"information days on technology and IT courses for schoolgirls. The high level of commitment is also reflected in awards. Thus was Prof. Dr. Nicola Marsden Last summer, MINT Zukunft e. V. named her MINT Ambassador of the Year 2021.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science has existed since December 22, 2015, when it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. UNESCO and UN Women organize annual celebrations in cooperation with partners.