UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Dr Michelle Rank, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, features in Pursuit and Women’s Agenda discussing the future of gender equity for women and girls in science.
The School of Biomedical Sciences marked the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February. The awareness day, in it's seventh year, advocates for full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. Dr Michelle Rank shared her strong opinions on gender equality in biomedical sciences in Pursuit and Women’s Agenda.
The award-winning academic highlighted the rise of new digital technologies in biomedical sciences as a “strength for women who are increasingly accounting for more of the students entering into these disciplines and prepared to embrace change”.
However, despite strong progress towards achieving gender equality across the industry, Dr Rank revealed female Biomedicine and Medicine students continue to ask: “How do you stay strong and resilient in an environment that can wear you down?” and “When should I start a family so that I don’t interrupt my career?”
According to an analysis of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) awarding of 2021 ‘investigator grants’, published in Nature, men received 23 per cent more grants and $95 million more funding than women despite comparable numbers of male and female applicants.
The NHMRC investigator grants offer funding at three levels of seniority dependent on the various career stages of applicants. According to the analysis, women and men secured equal amounts of funding at the most junior level, however the distribution of grants for more established scientists was skewed heavily towards men, possibly due to the predominance of male applicants at the most senior level of the scheme.
Such disparity in grant outcomes reflects the importance of calls to action like International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which is imperative for achieving gender equality at all levels of science, and for the empowerment of women and girls.
Dr Michelle Rank’s advice to students:
On this International Day of Women and Girls and Science, I urge my students to be brave, fearless and find that joy of discovery – no matter who they are or where they come from. At the same time, I hope strenuous efforts are made at the government, academic and corporate levels not only to attract women to biomedical sciences and digital tech fields but, above all, help to retain them.
About International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Gender equality has always been a core issue for the United Nations and is vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed upon goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A significant gender gap persists across all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines globally with women still under-represented in these fields.
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, recognising that full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation for women and girls of all ages is imperative for achieving gender equality.
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