#TalkIWD20 – catch up on the Twitter chat for International Women’s Day
Each year, March 8 is celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day – a day dedicated to acknowledging the impactful achievements of women in all sectors, challenging stereotypes and combating biases to achieve gender and minority balance. These goals are fully embodied by this year’s theme – #EachforEqual – which calls for individuals to work collectively to achieve gender equality.
To mark this date, Future Science Group hosted its second annual Twitter chat (#TalkIWD20) on 6 March, convening a panel of five pioneering females from across the STEM sector – including Dalia Dawoud (NICE; London, UK), Marley Van Dyke (Northern Arizona University; AZ, USA), Nathasia Mudiwa (University of Luxembourg), Simón(e) Sun (New York University; NY, USA) and Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova (University of Kentucky; KY, USA).
For 1 hour, our panelists took to Twitter to discuss the challenges they have faced and what direction the conversation needs to be steered in the future for us all to be #EachforEqual. Check out some of the highlights below:
Throughout the discussion, all of our panelists shared challenges that they have faced as women and minorities building careers in the STEM sector. It was insightful to observe many commonalities between their responses, with multiple panelists highlighting their battles against biases and stereotypes associated with gender, prejudices faced by women with families and a lack of female role models employed at senior leadership positions.
A dark side to STEM – stereotypes and stigma
Whilst steps have been taken to combat gender biases and stereotypes in STEM, and these are no longer as overt as they once were, many of our panelists still attested that stereotypes and unconscious biases against women remain, at all career stages. Our panel members attested that women can still be perceived as ‘soft’ and less able to handle pressure, which is associated with discrimination and reduced likelihood of success.
Throughout the chat, all of our panelists highlighted the importance of, and need for, greater female representation in senior leadership positions and at public events; this is essential for promoting opportunity, inclusion and possibilities to aspiring individuals. A need to rebalance perception of ‘valuable’ STEM careers was also emphasized.
The onus is on us…
When queried on what steps must be taken to encourage more women into STEM careers, as well as to retain highly trained and skilled women throughout the career pipeline, our panelists emphasized the active roles we – both institutions and women already in the field – must play in promoting minority career possibilities, mentoring and encouraging women, from young ages, to consider careers in STEM. We must be role models and not let stereotypes dissuade!
Build a STEM support system!
Support is necessary for success: all of our panelists made it clear that whether it came from family, work colleagues or even an online community of seeming strangers, support from individuals with similar goals and aspirations or who face similar challenges is an essential element of fostering confidence to succeed – especially for women and members of other minority groups.
A message for women on International Women’s Day
Finally, we asked our panel what parting messages they would like to pass on to women in STEM this International Women’s Day. Despite some of the challenges and concerns raised over the state of the field throughout the chat, all of our panelists remain optimistic, positive and sure of the steps we can take to progress towards #EachforEqual.
Thank you again to our panelists for giving up their time to advocate for gender equality this International Women’s Day – we had some fantastic, varied perspectives! This Twitter chat was part of a bigger conversation, as the aims of this campaign do not end on International Women’s Day – we must continue to keep the conversation going. Hopefully, by using Twitter as a global platform, #TalkIWD20 represents a step taken toward raising awareness and achieving #EachforEqual!
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