#WOMENSCIENTISTSPORTRAITS: the social media campaign launched for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Press Release -

The campaign highlights the work of women in scientific disciplines. To join, female researchers are asked to share their experiences as scientists on social media using the hashtag #WomenScientistsPortraits.

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. An opportunity to celebrate the essential role that women and girls play in science and technology.

The event encourages full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Nevertheless, the 11 February highlights how stereotypes and prejudices can hinder women’s scientific careers: a significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) all over the world. Even though women have made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented in these fields.

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. According to the ‘Women in Science’ research performed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in 2019, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. UIS data also show the extent to which these women work in the public, private or academic sectors and their fields of research. But what are the qualitative factors that deter women from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics? Numerous studies have found that women in STEM fields publish less, are paid less for their research, and do not progress as far as men in their careers.

To truly reduce the gender gap, it is important to educate children from an early age: according to Draw-a-Scientist Test held in 2016, only 58% of primary school girls draw female scientists: when boys and girls were asked to draw a scientist several decades ago, the results revealed a stunning bias: 99.4 percent of the drawings depicted a male scientist. Out of 5,000 drawings collected between 1966 and 1977, only 28 were of female scientists, all of which were drawn by girls. Since then, nearly 80 studies have repeated this experiment with over 20,000 students across all grade levels, and even if the number of drawings representing women scientists has risen steadily since the 1960s, there is still a long way to go.

ICONS works daily in European projects where women researchers play an important role. The organization wants to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, highlighting the female scientists’ work, their professionalism and their capabilities, for them and the young scientists-to-be. For this reason, ICONS is launching a social media campaign under the hashtag #WOMENSCIENTISTSPORTRAITS and asked women researchers to share a photo and a sentence to encapsulate what it means to be women in science.

The campaign starts on Monday 7 February and shares portraits of women who have changed and are still changing the world of science thanks to their knowledge and passion. It will be possible to follow the content on ICONS’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn channels. To join, just share your stories using the hashtag #WOMENSCIENTISTSPORTRAITS.