February 11 marks the ninth International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It's a time to reflect on the vital impact women have made in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and the critical role they continue to play in these fields. This day was also formed to highlight gender disparities and encourage more women and girls to participate in STEM, building the pipeline of female leaders in these professions. According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, In 2021, 65% of those employed in STEM occupations were men, and only 35% were women.
Read below for some ways to observe and participate.
Learn about the history of women in science
Throughout history, women have been integral in the world of science. This history allows us to understand the importance of inclusion, as it encourages innovation, progress, and paves the way for more scientific advancements.
Consider these interesting facts about the history of women in science:
- Merit Ptah practiced medicine during the Second Dynasty of Egypt, c. 2700 BCE, and was viewed as the chief physician. She is widely described as the first woman physician and scientist.
- Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) graduated first in her class from Geneva Medical School in 1849, and became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.
- Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958) contributed to the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA.
Spread the word about AIChE’s IDEAL initiatives
AIChE’s K-12 community is doing its part to introduce students to STEM and inspire them to pursue STEM careers by sparking interest and excitement for science and engineering. This community aims to prepare future engineering students and professionals to creatively solve technical challenges in an ethical, environmentally responsible, and socially conscious way.
Check out photos from the 2023 AIChE K-12 STEM Outreach Competition keynote below.
The Women in Chemical Engineering Community (WIC) empowers and supports women in chemical engineering and related fields. They stand for equitable treatment, representation, and equal employment of all women in chemical engineering.
The Future of Stem Scholars Initiative (FOSSI) opens the door for more women and minorities to pursue STEM careers by providing scholarship recipients $10,000 per year for four years, helping to eliminate financial barriers for historically under-represented groups. Often, students have the desire to pursue STEM, but not the means. The FOSSI scholarship provides the means to help make their dreams a reality.
FOSSI is made possible by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Chemours, and HBCU Week Foundation.
Tour a museum
Touring a museum is a fun and engaging way to learn more about the history of women in science. Check out some virtual exhibits below.