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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 11th is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Today marks an opportunity to rejoice in the contributions of women and girls in science while conceding that there is much work to be done to make STEM careers a reality for those who are at risk of being overlooked. Diversifying the pool of skilled scientific researchers is not a means of improving optics but, rather, a way to harness fresh perspectives in a constantly evolving world.

When considering the historical context of this day, we can't help but feel a sense of pride. We are able to have conversations about meaningful equity in STEM because of the tireless efforts of women and girls, who raised their voices and advocated for change. Their steadfast perseverance in the face of misogynistic attitudes and policies laid the foundation for much of what we take for granted today, empowering women and girls to demand more and never settle for less than they deserve.

Despite only making up one in three researchers globally today, many women in the industry are pioneering urgent work. The United Nations hosts a variety of digital resources celebrating women in science, such as Women Scientists on the Forefront of Climate Action, Four Women in Fisheries at the Forefront of Change in Science, and a powerful speech presented by a 10-year-old on the subject of AI and Empathy. We would urge all those reading to click through and soak in the sheer brilliance of these innovators.

It's no secret though that STEM fields, which are crucial to economic, environmental, and educational development, continue to leave women and girls out. Despite progress in their pursuit of higher education – we have not seen scientific spaces reflect the growing number of diverse, well-educated, and qualified female researchers. As well, gender parity is not the sole benchmark of success; it's about overhauling antiquated systems and structures which propagate inequities and gendered bias in STEM.

So, women and girls are still being left out of the conversation and we need to change that. But where to begin? Well, at the organizational level, it might look like championing EDI in STEM spaces or combating sexism in the recruiting, hiring, and retention of talent proactively, not reactively. At ParriagGroup, we're particularly fond of the mentorship avenue; nurturing professional relationships between women and girls, at different points in their careers is vital. Finally, leadership has to reflect a diverse array of individuals, demonstrating that it's possible to be a fiercely intelligent, passionate, and successful woman in STEM.

We love nothing more than working with organizations like the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), who understand the investments needed to ensure that women and girls are fully included in the sciences. As they diligently focus their energy on a commitment to creating spaces where all women and girls feel that their own efficacy is qualification enough, the CSA helps to ensure that those interested in pursuing STEM can continue to excel. With an understanding that it's likely for women and girls to encounter environments that are hostile and counterproductive to their own success, they prioritize nurturing that spark early, from the classroom to the workplace, there are supports in place to foster a love of science and a thirst for knowledge that solidifies dreams into realities. We commend the work they continue to do, as they challenge preconceived notions of what is and isn't possible for women, girls, and all other emerging scientific minds.

This International Day for Women and Girls in Science, let's pledge ourselves to foster curiosity, encourage innovation, and amplify triumphs. May we continue supporting women and girls as they bravely and boldly forge their own paths. Let's not just wait for change but pursue it tirelessly – settling for no less than the best for our friends, mothers, sisters, and daughters. Finally, let's put an end to the notion that anyone is "smart for a girl" and call a spade a spade. Women and girls aren't "lucky" to be in these spaces, nor should they be grateful for the bare minimum. They have earned their place at the table and we promise to follow their lead.

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