It is the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science!

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Today we celebrate gender diversity in Science, as the 11th of February is celebrated as the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, an international day of recognition for the adversity women face in the industry which aims to empower women and girls in science.
 
Women in science are incredibly underrepresented, making up rough 12% of the STEM work force. In some parts of STEM, women make up a negligible portion of employees, for example only 3% of Engineers are female.
 
UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science aims to celebrate the work of women who are working in an incredibly male dominated industry, which, by its nature, can throw up huge barriers for the women working in them. Research has proven that if women are made aware of the barriers they face, not just in science but in society in general, they are less likely to be effected by them and are more likely to overcome these issues.
 
Days like today are vital in addressing the gender imbalance in science, as it will help to generate discussion and raise awareness for gender issues in STEM industries. However, I cross my fingers that the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science does not face the backlash that International Women’s Day gets.
 
Next month, we will be celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th, a day which aims to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Despite its positive message, every year the international awareness day receives a great deal of backlash, with the conversation of the day often interrupted with ‘but why isn’t there an International Men’s Day?!’.
 
(For reference, anyone asking that question, please look up November 19th)
 
International Women’s Day exists to address the balance and raise awareness for gender inequality in society which prevents women from being equal culturally, economically and politically. The gender issues that are deeply ingrained in society mean that women are more likely to receive a lower wage than a man, more likely to have to give up their careers after starting a family and a more likely to suffer sexual abuse and domestic violence in their lifetime.
 
The main reason that International Women’s Day get the reaction it does is because people assume that when you talk about the issues that face women, you are ignoring the issues that face men in society, for example, men are more likely to commit suicide than women.
 
But by raising awareness for women’s issues, we aren’t ignoring societal problems that face men. What we are doing is talking about one side of the same coin, as the gender roles that our society is built on, effect both men and women. However, women particularly loose out in this social model.
 
By talking about women’s issues, it doesn’t mean that we are not talking about men. When we address the issues that bring women in society down, we aren’t proposing to ‘demote’ men, we are asking to promote women. 

Moreover, when we address the issues that face women, such as domestic violence, we aren’t saying that they don’t happen to men.
 
When we attempt to address the issues that face women in society, we are looking at why women are more likely to experience these issues, we are not saying that they don’t happen to men.
 
Many of the issues that hold women back politically, economically and culturally are the same issues that hold women back in science, and the validity of these international awareness days are an integral part of addressing gender issues to better the lives of women should be recognised.
 
I really hope that  the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science doesn’t experience the same amount of ‘what about a day for men?’ that International Women’s Day receives.
 
Because, to put it simply, when men make up almost all members of an industry, when men are more likely to receive research funding and when men are more likely to receive recognition for their work, every day is International Day of Men in Science.
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