February 11th marks the United Nations (UN) International Day of Women and Girls in Science dedicated to women and girls achieving full and equal access to participation in STEM education across the world, supporting gender equality and creating a voice to empower a generation of girls. A significant gender gap persisted for many years across all STEM disciplines worldwide, and even though there have been tremendous strides globally, more was needed to encourage women and girls into science.
In 2015, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution, further implemented by UNESCO and UN Women, to promote equal access to science participation for women and girls. This new annual observance on February 11th offered recognition of the critical role women and girls played in Science and Technology.
In support of the 2022 Theme: “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”, The 7th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly, taking place on 11 February 2022, in virtual format from UN Headquarters in New York, aims to recognize the role of women and girls in science, not only as beneficiaries but also as agents of change, including in view of accelerating progress towards the achievement of SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation).
Did you know?
According to UNESCO’s report ‘Cracking the code: Girl’s and women’s education in STEM’, only 35% of STEM students globally are women. Despite a shortage of skills in most technological fields driving the 4th Industrial revolution, women largely only account for 28% of engineering and 40% of computer science graduates. In innovative modern areas like AI, only one in five professionals is a woman.
Why are there fewer women in STEM fields and what more should be done globally?
Gender stereotypes play an enormous role in creating career bias; girls are steered towards gentler and softer subjects like ‘social sciences and humanities, thus impeding their ability and confidence in turning to more academic STEM subjects creating a systemic gap as they age. As the gap progresses and COVID-19 creates other gender disparities, fewer women continue to enter professional roles that could enable them to become role models mentoring younger girls. Unfortunately, the few women who do breakthrough face closed cultures in male-dominated workforces resulting in less pay and fewer chances to gain recognition.
One way to address these complexities is through a change in education with institutions offering fully inclusive environments removing systemic bias by providing higher quality opportunities to receive STEM education. Private industries can diversify their STEM hiring process by delivering family-friendly policies like childcare, flexible work and paid time off to support domestic home-life pressures.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science, offers the opportunity to change the narrative for the better as shown in this short clip. Celebrate the achievements of women and girls, who are leading innovation and call for actions to remove all barriers that hold them back. Join the conversation with #WomenInScience.
Let’s take a look at women’s inspiring breakthrough in STEM domain that shaped the world we live in today:
Radia Perlman as an early computer scientist and student of MIT in the 60’s became an internet pioneer, developing the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP). This innovation made today’s Internet possible. She also invented TRILL to correct the limitations of STP. A wildly creative thinker, Dr. Perlman even developed a child-friendly programming language used by children as young as three. She authored networking and network security textbook and held more than 100 issued patents.
Barbara McClintock is the only woman to have received a Nobel Prize for Medicine by herself. She won the Nobel in 1983 for the work that began with her discovery 40 years earlier that genetic material is not fixed but is fluid. James Watson credited her genetic insights as part of his discovery of DNA. In her biography ‘A Feeling for the Organism’, she connected new scientific and feminist perspectives. Her students adopted her mindset that science is open-ended and unresolved. Dr. McClintock felt it was essential to put in the caveat “this is what we know” in scientific assertions, implicitly reminding us that so much is not yet known.
Ana Habib is the founder of Bot Latam, a Mexican consulting firm helping companies that develop disruptive clean technology to introduce their solutions into Latin American markets. She is also the director of Bot Latam’s educational program, i-Bot4fun. The i-Bot4fun program provides STEM education for K-12 students through the lens of robotics—a fun hook that never fails to inspire!
These empowered and accomplished women share a snippet of the potential and magnitude talented girls and women can provide to the world through STEM knowledge. They offer new generations a sense of hope and purpose that meaningful and powerful careers are ahead within this field.
Interview: Let’s hear from our very own Sue Laws and how talented women like her are game-changing the world of technology.
Sue Laws – Executive VP Business Solutions Group, America
Before becoming an Executive VP of Business Solutions Group within Temenos, Sue Laws was a highly experienced finance professional. She wanted to build an exciting career to learn new things every day and travel the world to gain new experiences. She found all that within Temenos – know more about her journey captured in the interview below.
Sue, tell us about your journey and what inspired you to pursue a career in technology?
After spending many years on the client-side in Tier 1 banks, including Credit Suisse as Head of Treasury and Payments, I fell into technology. I’ve always loved maths, engineering and generally anything that involves numbers. These skills aligned beautifully with what the technology industry required. Modern technology would be unthinkable without Maths and the relationship is reciprocal since mathematics also needs technology, which helps us to see technology and its benefits differently. There are numbers in technology. If you can break down numbers easily, you can see technology differently.
What challenges have you faced in the technology domain if any and how did you overcome them?
In my personal experience, I’ve never felt held back as a woman in tech. However, I am aware – that may not be every woman or girl’s journey around the world. We consistently need to educate others and ourselves, to remove barriers for women to progress and achieve their potential across all communities. I am pleased to see an uplift in girls and women saying they want to be an engineer, wants to code, be a data scientist, or wants to work for NASA – it is beautiful to see empowered young girls not just dreaming about it but also reaching out and getting what they want and deserve.
I have an outgoing and lively personality and am confident of what I know and what I don’t know, and I’m never afraid to ask for help and support. I am lucky that no one ever told me that I could not do something because I am a woman (and if they did, I would thoroughly enjoy the challenge). I have the self-confidence to know I can make a difference helping clients, colleagues, partners both regionally and globally.
What would you say to the future generation of girls aspiring to have a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)?
Be bold, be brave, and feel empowered within to be yourself to seek any opportunities in STEM fields you decide. We STEM veterans have a social responsibility to share our journeys with you, including our thoughts and ideas of empowering you to reach out and do something different. Always Be You!
How is Temenos ensuring more girls and women enter the world of STEM?
By raising awareness and delivering progressive, forward-thinking actions enabling systemic change. Temenos is committed to diversity and gender equality in the workplace, encouraging women to choose a career in the IT industry. Access our CAREERS PAGE and share with others.
Temenos recently announced that it is one of the 418 companies globally to join the 2022 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) committed to the advancement and representation of women in senior management positions. In 2020, women represented 48% of Temenos’ workforce in the under 30’s category, up 35% in 2014. Over the same period, women in STEM positions increased to 43%. 35% of its global workforce identifies as a woman – 10% higher than the average IT industry.
“To be recognized in this global benchmark index highlights our strong commitment to gender-related data transparency and reporting.Kalliopi Chioti, Chief ESG Officer, Temenos
In India, 35% of our workforce are women, working and leading successfully in the STEM domain. In alignment with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), last year during International Day of Women and Girls in Science we organized ‘Jr. Madam Curie Challenge at RBANC Government School, Egmore – Chennai’ to address the importance of quality education to promote science and technology subjects for girl students associated with us through Adopt IT CSR initiative. The event witnessed the practical application of various science concepts from 31 enthusiastic girl participants displaying their creative prototypes including – hydropower electric energy, rainwater/ earthquake alarms and automatic sanitizers. In the previous years, Temenos India also supported in building and improving infrastructure for two schools in Chennai, including restrooms for girls for access to clean water and sanitation, helping girls stay in school and gain equal access to education and opportunities in life.