UNESCO Jordan celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022

Amman  – For the seventh time, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated on February 11 to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. Women and girls play a critical role in the science and technology communities as agents of change. Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO, and the support of young girls, their education and their full ability to make their ideas and voices heard are levers for development and peace.

Globally, although more girls are in schools than ever before, women represent only 30 per cent of all students enrolled in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in higher education. The situation in Jordan presents in this respect a more encouraging picture; available data suggests that more than 60% of students in the natural sciences, medicine, dentistry and pharmacy are female; the figure for engineering lies around 28 per cent and that for computer science around 45 per cent.

In 2020, 76.5% of female students who took the Tawjihi science stream examination passed, compared to 65.3% of male students, and yet the number of male PhD holding academic staff and lecturers at Jordanian universities are more than twice that of their female counterparts. Moreover, Jordan has one of the highest numbers of female university graduates in the region, while at the same time it has one of the lowest number of women in the workforce. The figures suggest that Jordan does well in encouraging girls and young women to take up science related subjects at school and University level, however, there is room for improvement in their transition to the job market.

Globally, UNESCO is advocating for new policies, initiatives and mechanisms to support women and girls in science. To do that, it is necessary to understand the factors that deter women from pursuing careers in STEM. Among these factors are very often gender biases and social norms that influence the subjects girls and young women study. This gender disparity is a serious problem, particularly as STEM careers are very much seen as the “jobs of the future,” driving social well-being, innovation and inclusive growth. Scientists will play a key role in addressing the challenges of food security, climate change, clean energy, health, water and sanitation.

The world needs science and science needs women, not least in view of accelerating progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and it is therefore imperative that girls and women are encouraged to enter STEM education and careers, and continue in the field.

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