The United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an awkward title for an important initiative. Australia offers one of the starker examples of how women and girls have to struggle to participate in science. While we have some astounding female scientists, we also have ever declining numbers of female students choosing to study science; followed by distressing tales of the difficulties of pursuing a career once graduated. So lauding the achievements of women scientists and pointing to role-models for girls is an excellent initiative.
There’s a talk on at the Australian Museum which is loosely tied to the day. ‘Loosely’ because it’s not on the day and the topic is just generically interesting: “What do Mars and Iceland have in common, and could you really grow potatoes there? What have Australian facilities such as ANSTO’s Australian Synchrotron taught us about Titan or Europa?” It is presented by a woman so that ties it to the day a bit.
Outside of that, we’re a bit bereft of local activities – what a surprise!
So if you have kids you want to make a point to on the day, to take a look at the hashtag #dresslikeawoman on twitter which has a range of women many of whom are scientists showing how little stereotypes should apply (our new Chief Justice of the High Court is amongst them too).
Even without organised activities, teachers and parents should use the 10th of February as a chance to make both girls and boys think about women in science; and perhaps nudge a few more girls into aspiring to become women of science and a few more boys into becoming men who accept and encourage women in science.