International Women and Girls in Science Day

New Zealand and Australia collaborate to deliver Expo 2020 World Majlis on International Women and Girls in Science Day

Did you know less than 40% of the current global STEM workforce is female? In line with International Women and Girls and Science Day on 11 February, we were proud to join forces with Australia to deliver ChangemakeHER: Advancing diversity in the tech world.

Featuring a panel of six women within STEM from the UAE, USA, Latvia, Australia and New Zealand, the Expo 2020 Programme for People and Planet event explored topics surrounding barriers for women and girls in science and what can be done to debug the diversity gap to ensure equal opportunities for all. We were honoured to have Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard, the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, join the discussions virtually and share her thoughts on how the narrative and perceptions of women in STEM needs to change.

Speaking during the event, Dame Juliet said: “A lot of the challenges in the world at the moment can be solved by STEM. Not involving half the population in those solutions is a tremendous waste of talent.”

While there has been some notable progress in women transitioning within STEM industries, the panel identified that gender bias continues to impair women from progressing to leadership positions. Dame Juliet commented: “Senior leaders still tend to be all male. Companies are often so proud of having young female employees, but we must continue to ask the question: why aren’t women sitting around the board table? The demographics at senior levels are often disappointing.”

Alongside her fellow panellists who included HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Former Minister in the Government of United Arab Emirates and the first Emirati woman to assume a ministerial post, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador, and Akshaya Dinesh, a young startup CEO from USA, Dame Juliet was asked to share one key takeaway for changing the gender narrative in STEM.

“Belonging. We need to get the message to women and girls that they belong in STEM.”

Closing the event, the New Zealand Pavilion’s Deputy Commissioner General Kylie Archer acknowledged participants for leading the conversation and paving the way for the next generation of girls to take their place in science.

The event set the tone for New Zealand’s event on 8 March – ChangemakeHER: The Next Generation of Movers, Shakers and Action Takers, as part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s official International Women’s Day programming. In collaboration with the Women’s Pavilion, this special event curated by GirlBoss New Zealand founder Alexia Hilbertidou aims to foster powerful and unprecedented connections across cultures, generations, and borders on the topic of women’s empowerment.