Gender bias in science ‘deprives our world of great talent’: UN Chief Guterres

BY | Monday, 12 February, 2024

On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that gender equality in science is essential to building a better future for all.

According to the UN, this Day is an opportunity to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO, and the support of young girls, their education and their full ability to make their ideas heard are levers for development and peace.

This year’s celebration focused on Closing the Gender Gap in Science: Accelerating Action.

“Sadly, women and girls continue to face systemic barriers and biases that prevent them from pursuing careers in science,” noted Guterres  in a message for the day.

Today, women make up only a third of the global scientific community and, compared to men, they get less funding, are underrepresented in publications and hold fewer senior positions in major universities.

In some places, women and girls have limited or no access to education. Guterres described this situation as not only harmful to the societies concerned, but also a terrible violation of human rights.

Stressing that it is essential for women and girls to participate equally in scientific discoveries and innovations, whether in the field of climate change, health or artificial intelligence, Secretary-General remarked, “This is the only way to ensure that science benefits everyone.”

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Addressing gender inequalities requires overcoming gender stereotypes and promoting role models that encourage girls to pursue scientific careers, viewed Guterres, alongside developing programmes that encourage the advancement of women in science, and creating work environments that nurture women’s talents. Especially those of women from minority groups.

“Women and girls belong in science. It is time to recognize that inclusion fosters innovation, and let every woman and girl fulfil her true potential,” the UN chief concluded.

The theme chosen for this year’s International Day by UNESCO and UN Women, the two UN agencies leading on the celebrations, is “Closing the gender gap in science”. UNESCO’s Call for Action provides recommendations aimed at tackling the root causes of gender-based inequalities in science.

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