Women in Science Day celebrated for the first time

On 11 February, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is held in Estonia for the first time, led by the Archemy research group of the University of Tartu and the Estonian Young Academy of Sciences. 

The Day of Women and Girls in Science was established at the initiative of the UN in 2015 with the aim of promoting the significant role of women and girls in the development of science. Today’s world is facing major unsolved problems, from healthcare issues to the climate crisis, and when tackling these issues, we rely on scientific achievements and the work of researchers. “By emphasising the importance of equal access to science for both men and women, we can make use of all researchers’ potential in solving these major problems”, Vice Rector for Research of the University of Tartu Kristjan Vassil said. 

According to Vice Rector Kristjan Vassil, as many as two thirds of the University of Tartu students are women. “But why is it so that the higher the position in the career ladder, the fewer there are female scientists? Underrepresentation of women is also evident in research policy-making bodies, for example, there is only one woman among the 11 members of highest such body, the research and development council advising the prime minister. I am very pleased that the cabinet of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is gender-balanced. Hopefully, it will pave the way for bigger changes,” he said.

The Archemy research group is organising the Day of Women in Science at the University of Tartu. “With this day, we appreciate and recognise female scientists in both academia and society,” explained Ester Oras, Associate Professor of Archaeology and Analytical Chemistry at the University of Tartu, principal investigator of the Archemy group and a member of Estonian Youth Academy of Sciences. “We want the woman scientist’s role to be attractive, and academic women to be equally involved and justly recognised. We also want to help break gender stereotypes and encourage young women and girls to choose a career in science. In the long run, however, we hope to contribute to solving deeper labour market and social issues, like the current gender pay gap (also in academia), the issue of gender equality in governance and in decision-making bodies, harassment cases at work and in private life, or social norms and expectations to women,” said Oras.

In Estonia, the day is celebrated for the first time. Internationally, the Day of Women and Girls in Science was established by UNESCO and UN Women, the UN entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. This year, the UNESCO events are focused the role of women in the fight against the COVID-19 crisis.

Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian outstanding female scientists can apply for the L’Oréal Baltic programme “Women in Science”. In this programme, seven 6,000-euro prizes are awarded to the best, up to 40-year-old women scientists. In addition, one person from each Baltic country will be nominated for the L’Oréal–UNESCO International Rising Talent grant competition.

When writing about the Day of Women in Science on social media, use hashtags #naisedteaduses and #WomenInScience.

Further information: Ester Oras, Associate Professor of Archaeology, Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Tartu, member of Estonian Youth Academy of Sciences, 5811 6886, ester.oras@ut.ee

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