Today, the world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which aims to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. As part of this effort, Gender STI has launched its own #WomenInScience campaign. We talked to researchers and experts, both men and women, about why they got involved in science, what they think about current statistics on women researchers and what they think needs to be done to encourage more women and girls to pursue scientific careers.
As we celebrate this day, it is important to remember our women heroes in science locally and on a global level. Surbhi Sharma, founder of the Euro India Research Centre (EIRC) and an advocate for gender equality in the science, technology and innovation ecosystem, reminds us that women in science have already created amazing things and that their future is limitless.
What is your job position and why did you decide to work in science, technology and innovation? What does your job entail?
I am founder of EIRC. I was impressed with the science, technology and innovation ecosystem of Europe, and the mechanisms of collaborative research practiced on the ground. I decided to start this company in order to foster deeper partnerships between best-in-class research centers, industries and universities across Europe and India.
According to the United Nations, currently less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. What do you think about that?
We definitely need to increase these numbers significantly. In India, while 43% of the PhDs are women in S&T, these numbers are not reflected in the job market. We definitely need to work harder and better to improve these numbers.
I feel that Gender STI can really make a positive change in this direction – by providing concrete recommendations at the policy level and involving various stakeholders.
What would you tell young girls and women who are interested in pursuing a career in science?
I would encourage them to pursue their dream – I would give them more and more examples of women in science who have impacted the world.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage more girls and women to pursue scientific careers?
It is important to provide opportunities for girls and women to build their confidence and careers in science. Making science more fun in their daily curriculum is also important. At the policy and fiscal levels too, hiring women should be encouraged.
What message would you send to the public on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science?
I would like to focus their attention to the women heroes in science—both globally and locally.
In India, they include Vinisha Umashankar, who designed a mobile ironing cart using solar panels to power a steam iron box rather than conventional charcoal. There is also Nikhiya Shamsher, who marveled people everywhere with her video on space time and gravity. Shamsher has a pending patent for a home-based salivary diagnostic test for chronic smokers to detect the risk of oral cancer. These are just two amazing women. There are so many more.