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International Day of Women and Girls in Science: 4 Women Who Are Killing it in the World of Science Today

Posted:
11 February 2022   |   by Explore Careers
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Representation matters.

When we see people like us doing incredible things, it helps us realise that we, too, can do incredible things! It also allows us to reshape ideas of who gets to do what in the world, especially for careers.

Women are under-represented and under-appreciated in many industries, not least STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a powerhouse of women doing extraordinary things.

For International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022, we wanted to shine a big bright spotlight on just a handful of them. In so doing, we hope you’ll not only see a bit of representation, but you’ll also feel inspired by where a STEM career might take you.

What is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science?

According to the United Nations, science and gender equality are vital for achieving internationally agreed development goals – this includes raising access for women and girls into the fields of science and technology. The global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. While things are improving, we still have a long way to go.

Since 2015, the 11th of February has been acknowledged as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The UN sees this as a global opportunity for organisations to celebrate and make visible women’s work across STEM subjects and industries, and in doing so, keep increasing engagement and access for girls everywhere to pursue careers in the sector.

The day aims to address vital areas of inequality, including:

  • Access to grants and funding: According to the UN, women are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues.
  • More diversity in leading technologies: In cutting-edge fields such as artificial intelligence, only one in five professionals is a woman.
  • Addressing skills shortages: Despite a shortage of skills in most technological fields, women still account for only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of computer science and informatics graduates.
  • Greater career access and professional recognition: Female researchers have shorter, less well-paid careers. Their work is underrepresented in high-profile journals, and they are often passed over for promotion.

4 Women Killing it in the World of Science Today

We took a deep dive and discovered HEAPS of women doing amazing stuff, but here’s four that caught our eye and wowed us.

Not only are these female scientists killing it, but they’re also showcasing science truly has no limits and more that – science is FUN!

1. Fei-Fei Li is Teaching Computers to Understand Pictures.

When a very young child looks at a picture, she can identify simple elements: ‘cat’, ‘book’, or ‘chair’. Now computers are getting smart enough to do that too. What’s next?!

Fei-Fei Li is the Director of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and Vision Lab, working to solve AI’s trickiest problems including image recognition, learning and language processing. Li and her team have built a database of 15 million photos to ‘teach’ a computer to understand pictures with amazing results.

Watch her TED talk to learn more about her work and what’s next for AI in this fascinating area of work: https://www.ted.com/talks/fei_fei_li_how_we_re_teaching_computers_to_understand_pictures?referrer=playlist-11_ted_talks_by_brilliant_wome

2. Karen Elazari is Developing Online Immunity Through Hackers.

Keren Elazari is a Cybersecurity Expert whose entire career focuses on making our online lives better and safer. She charts the transformation of hackers from cyberpunk protagonists to powerful hacktivists who are the unsung heroes of the digital frontier.

According to Elazari, the beauty of hackers is they force us to evolve and improve. Yeah, there are some bad guys out there – and the media would have us all believe that hackers are out to just rob banks – but she says hackers are a force for GOOD. They push the Internet to become stronger and healthier by exposing vulnerabilities, wielding their power to create a better world.

Learn more about Elazari and her fist-bumping work in cybersecurity: https://www.ted.com/talks/keren_elazari_hackers_the_internet_s_immune_system?referrer=playlist-11_ted_talks_by_brilliant_wome

3. Cynthia Breazeal Talks All Things Robots.

Cynthia Breazeal, world-renowned Robotocist, and her team based at MIT are building robots with social intelligence that communicate and learn the same way people do. She wants to know why we have more robots on Mars than we do in our homes and she thinks she has the answer.

With a special focus on developing robots that teach, learn and play, her incredible talk includes footage of a new interactive prototype her team have created for kids – you don’t want to miss it! https://www.ted.com/talks/cynthia_breazeal_the_rise_of_personal_robots?referrer=playlist-11_ted_talks_by_brilliant_wome

4. Ayah Bdeir is Teaching Legos to Beep, Blink and Teach.

Ayah Bdeir is an Engineer, Artist, and founder of littleBits and Karaj, an experimental art, architecture and technology lab based in Beirut.

Bdeir introduces us to her creation littleBits – a set of simple, interchangeable blocks that make programming as simple and important a part of creativity as snapping blocks together. Combining her skills as an engineer and vision as an artist, Bdeir has created something totally unique and FUN to inspire kids of all ages to explore the world of programming.

Take a look here: https://www.ted.com/talks/ayah_bdeir_building_blocks_that_blink_beep_and_teach?referrer=playlist-11_ted_talks_by_brilliant_wome

And One Last Thing

What do you think? Who’s your favourite out of the list? Did anyone in particular that’s inspired you?

We just have one last video for you, and it’s one we encourage you to showcase in your classrooms, with your friends, younger siblings and family because it highlights just what International Day of Women and Girls in Science is all about!

Journalist Rachel Ignotofsky takes through a visual re-writing of the history of women in science to be more honest and inclusive.

https://www.ted.com/talks/rachel_ignotofsky_making_women_in_science_visible

Talk about wow!

However you acknowledge the 11th of February, we hope it’s filled with lots of inspiration and motivation.

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