Women in Science Day celebrated for the first time in Estonia

The logo for Women in Science Day which says
The logo for Women in Science Day which says "Women in Science" Source: Jaana Ratas

On February 11, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is being 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.

"With this day, we appreciate and recognize 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 recognized. 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. 

The university said in a statement that 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. 

Vice Rector for Research of the University of Tartu Kristjan Vassil said: "By emphasizing 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."

Vassil said as many as two-thirds of the University of Tartu students are women.

"But why is it so that the higher the position on the career ladder, the fewer female scientists there are? Underrepresentation of women is also evident in research policy-making bodies, for example, there is only one woman among the 11 members of the highest 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 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 focus on 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 program "Women in Science". In this program, 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. 

Research in Estonia also publishes some data about female scientists in Estonia.

Happy International Day for all the #Women and #Girls in #Science! Here are some facts about women in Estonian ...

Posted by Research In Estonia on Thursday, 11 February 2021

The European Union's statistics agency Eurostat published data on Women in Science Day which showed that in 2019, there were more than 6.3 million female scientists and engineers in the EU, accounting for 41 percent of total employment in science and engineering. There were 9.1 million men who made up 59 percent of the total.

Data from 2018, which was released on the same day a year ago, showed the same figure.

Among EU Member States, the proportion of female scientists and engineers varied widely in 2019, ranging from 55 percent in Lithuania to 28 percent in Luxembourg.

The proportion of women scientists and engineers in the EU, 2019. Source: Eurostat.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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