International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We explore some of the reasons why there are fewer girls and women interested in working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and what's happening to encourage equality in these fields.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.

In 2016, the UN declared 11 February as International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The main reason for this declaration was to encourage more girls and women to take up jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as the STEM subjects). Figures show that although there is no significant difference in ability between boys and girls in maths and science, less than 35 per cent of graduates in STEM subjects worldwide are women and there are even fewer in engineering and information technology.

Why is it important to involve more women and girls in science?

When one group of people dominates a field of study, whether it's an age group, a cultural group or a gender, there is danger of creating a narrow view of the subject. Including more women in male-dominated areas will bring in fresh points of view, new talent and creativity. It can also help increase women's social and financial position in some countries. 

Why aren't more girls taking up careers in STEM subjects? 

This is a difficult and complicated question. A number of answers have been suggested.  

Early years
Some suggest that girls have less experience of activities and toys that encourage an interest in science. Others suggest that girls are more critical of their abilities and tend to underestimate themselves, so they might not think they're 'good enough' to study a STEM subject at university. 

Making choices at school
Studies found that girls' test results in science subjects were as good as boys'. But since they often also do well in other subjects, girls have more choices when deciding what to study. This has an obvious influence on their future choice in jobs.

Entering the world of work 
Another factor could be the fact that the thought of being one of a small minority on a university course, or in a job, may discourage girls from preparing for a career in research or engineering. There is a common fear that if you are in a minority, you will suffer discrimination and you will need to work much harder in order to succeed. 

What can be done to encourage girls to take up science as a career?  

There are a number of things that can be done to encourage girls to consider a career in science. 

Early years
Parents and schools can introduce all children – boys and girls – to activities and toys that encourage them to build and make things and get them interested in exploring the world around them and how it works. 

Making choices at school 
A number of organisations send women scientists to talk to girls at school about their work. Some schools encourage older girls who are studying STEM subjects to talk to younger students in their schools about their passion for their subject. University and research facilities open their laboratories to schools so that the students can experience hands-on scientific research.   

Entering the world of work 
More and more workplaces and science departments are using mentor programmes to help and support women when they are working in a minority. Women in senior roles are often very keen to offer support to younger women entering their field.  

Role models
Probably one of the most important things is to make sure that girls see plenty of examples of successful women scientists in the news and in the media. 

If you want to find out more about women in science and this special day, look for #WomenInScience on social media.



Worksheet87.49 KB

Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Submitted by PARIMALA MADIAZHAKAN on Mon, 15/02/2021 - 14:19

In my opinion , possible solution for encourage women participate in field of STEM is government must give first priority to women. Government need to create job opportunity in field of science to encourage them to involve more efficiently. For example, government sectors distribute more employment opportunities to women compare to men. Further more, after women finished studies in fields of STEM government should give them first priority to offer a good job with good salary. Government should offer a better salary for women scientist to encourage the participates of women in this fields. This kind of solution may attract women's attention to involve in fields of science. I am from Malaysia. In my country there are many women scientist who involve in science area. Each moment they make our country feel proud by their achievements in this field. One of top scientist in my country is Mahaletchumy Arujanan. She is listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the field of biotechnology by the 7th edition of The Scientific American Worldwide View: A Global Biotechnology Perspective Journal.

Submitted by danisep on Fri, 05/02/2021 - 16:41

I think that it is a cultural matter, how the script said, girls play with dolls and boys with cars and legos. since the beginning, we established clear roles in children. that's why some people think that men can drive better or do mechanical jobs because they have a different physical composition. I don't think in that way and it is clear that there are certain benefices if there are women in STEM subjects.

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 22:49

Another possible solution is by providing them with incentives and supports in the long run. Yes. I know.

Submitted by cittàutopica on Sat, 28/03/2020 - 14:53

I think the basic thing that can be done to encourage girls to consider a career in STEM is educating their parents. Indeed the family is the first social and cultural context and the parents tend often to pass down the old-fashioned role models. Concerning my country, I want remember at least two women scientists in two different domains: Maria Montessori (Educational Sciences) and Rita Levi Montalcini (Nobel Medicine Prize).

Submitted by parisaach on Sun, 22/09/2019 - 12:45

In my country although there are limitation for women to progress in their job, and universities provide more capacity for boys than girls, there are lots of girls who like to study in STEM. Actually in my country clever students just want to study engineering or medicine, no matter they are girl or boy. One of the most famous women who studied mathematics in my country is Maryam MirzaKhani, She was the first woman who won the Fields medal which we know Nobel prize in mathematics. I think the biggest barrier for women to be successful in their job or study is housework . Many people believe that it is women responsibility to cook and do housework. Though there are many men here who do housework and cooking,still most of them even don't know how to use an oven. Families trying to learn girls to cook, and they don't expect boys to cook or do housework. At school they teach girls how to cook and sew , and learn boys doing technical affairs. They usually understimate girls, some of them still make fun of how women drive. All of these affect girls self confidence.We really should change this perespective. Families and school should change their learning system.

Submitted by iso on Thu, 07/03/2019 - 06:18

Leaning STEM is positive decision for women take up jobs in particular field.I had been positively study science field in college ,but There are few women.Further more other women don't study STEM field.That why women don't exists in STEM field currently.Some women might not stay up in science field because Teacher didn't encourage to study science field.It is difficult to take up jobs.Nowadays college teacher suggest computer science is positive way to take up jobs.In fact There are so many applicants.In science field over 70 per cent is men.modern society currently need more women in company for governance.

Submitted by Syed Burhan ahmed on Sat, 16/02/2019 - 11:17

Very effective way of learning English

Submitted by luis avellar on Tue, 12/02/2019 - 15:01

Warning: The essential on preparation, is make sure you continue. My regards.

Submitted by samssira on Mon, 11/02/2019 - 21:39

Thanks for your articles. I love reading them and I have learned many things. I think that speaking (especially parents to their daughters)about women who have prices and very high and good degree in science will help.

Submitted by Meyex on Mon, 11/02/2019 - 20:21

Task 1, Q5 "Giving the same toys to boys and girls could encourage more girls to enter STEM fields." In my opinion, "true" is not correct. The text says: '... to activities and toys that encourage them to build and make things ...'. When I give both a boy and girls a Barbie doll, then both have the same toy but I don't encourage neither the boy nor the girl to study a STEM subject (maybe they become a hairdresser).

Submitted by Meyex on Mon, 11/02/2019 - 20:00

When I started studying electrical engineering at university 30 years ago, there was exactly one woman studying this subject. This has improved in the meantime but in our company we still have almost no female applicants for engineering jobs - although the company offers very good payment and tries to attract women.

Submitted by dollarsee on Sun, 10/02/2019 - 18:42

I love this writing. Thanks a million.

Submitted by Wang Zijian on Sun, 10/02/2019 - 13:57

YU Youyou, a femal Noble Prize winner, is a famous role model for women and girls in China. I do agree that we have to increase media coverage of science and scientists, especially females ones in order to encourage the younger generation to get involved in relevant areas.

Submitted by Ayman Hosny on Tue, 05/02/2019 - 19:20

Thank you very much to BC. I found this article fantastic one. This is the first time I read about this issue. I have a new point which might push our world to a better place.

Submitted by teona on Tue, 05/02/2019 - 13:45

wouldbe great if you add audio vesrion
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