UNOOSA: a meeting in Vienna to mark International Day of women in STEM

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VIENNA, FEBRUARY 9 – Underrepresentation of women in STEM education and careers continues to persist in both developed and developing countries. Recent studies show that women are underrepresented as researchers in STEM fields in all regions, and less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. In the aerospace industry, women comprise no more than 20% of the workforce, a figure that has changed little in the last three decades .

To address this problem the UN Office for Outer Space (UNOOSA) will host an expert meeting in Vienna on February 11 and 12. “Making Space4Women in the Decade of Action” will mark the 2021 International Day of Women and Girls in Science. UNOOSa Director Simonetta di Pippo will address the opening segment.

The Space4Women project and associated web portal was launched one year ago, on the 2020 International Day of Women and Girls in Science to address Sustainable Development Goal 5 and specifically to promote space technology to facilitate access to education and jobs in the space sector; provide policy-relevant advice and awareness-raising to institutions and governments on ‘Space for Women’ and ‘Women for Space’; facilitate capacity-building on access to and use of space-technology and promote a mentoring and networking platform to connect women and girls with rolemodels in the field and career and educational resources.

Several factors contribute to low participation rates among women and girls in space and STEM education and careers. These include: (1) gender stereotypes and bias in formalized education and societal expectations, (2) inequality in the labor market and wage gaps, (3) a lack of female STEM teachers in secondary school, (4) inadequate information and career guidance, and (5) a lack of appropriate role models. Several women with leading roles in science will address the meeting as “mentors”: among them,  Ghina Halabi of She Speaks Science, the first to receive a PhD in astrophysics from a Lebanese university,  Shelli Brunswick from the Space Foundation, Ilaria Cinelli (Aerospace Medical Association), Ersilia Vaudo from ESA and Alessandra Pacini of InSpace. (@OnuItalia)