Women have played an essential role in science throughout history, contributing to some of the most significant breakthroughs of all time.
Yet there are still challenges faced by women in the workplace that must be addressed to achieve further success in the sciences.
Here, we explore what challenges women face at work, why gender diversity is so important in science and the women that have contributed to pioneering breakthroughs across the industry.
What challenges do women face in the workplace?
While women’s contribution to the workplace is undeniable, there are still challenges to overcome. This includes gender bias, pregnancy discrimination, period discrimination, harassment, and gender pay gaps.
According to data released by the Office for National Statistics, the wage gap between men’s and women’s pay was more than 8.00% in April 2022.
They say that “higher earners experience a much larger difference in hourly pay between the sexes”. The difference in wages has also been noticed between the employees aged above 40 years and those less than 40 years.
Workplaces should put policies in place to overcome gender bias and encourage equality. This will help to create inclusive work environments that encourage growth and success among female professionals.
Another critical challenge faced by women in the workplace includes the lack of understanding of colleagues and bosses which leads to women forcefully resigning from their jobs.
Why is gender diversity important in life sciences?
Gender diversity is extremely important throughout all aspects of life sciences. Women can offer unique viewpoints and share experiences that help to inform research, solve problems, and ultimately lead to more impactful breakthroughs.
It’s also essential to have female leaders that future generations are inspired by and look up to. Strong women mentors can help encourage capable young women to utilize their talents and follow their dreams to become influential scientists.
Gender diversity brings a new way to look at things. There is always going to be more than one way of tackling any situation – and having women in your team is always going to take you a long distance. One of the best examples is the Chandrayan – 3 moon mission where the team comprises of more than 50 women – one of the highest representations of women in the tech field.
This reiterates the importance of gender diversity – as new opinions and perspectives are clearly important for projects to progress.
Encouraging women to follow this career path can help create more diversity in the industry, encouraging more females to take up careers as researchers, engineers, biologists, or life science advisors to leading institutions.
What pioneering breakthroughs have women had in science?
Many incredible women have made significant breakthroughs in the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
This includes the iconic Marie Curie, a famous chemist and physicist who discovered the radioactive elements radium and polonium. She invented an X-ray machine that was used during World War One and was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
Rosalind Franklin also drove scientific innovation by contributing to the discovery of DNA structures during the 1950s, while chemist Dorothy Hodgkin created the first insulin structure.
The BBC’s Science Focus explores many more pioneering females in the world of STEM, including Janet Taylor who “designed instruments for nautical navigation”, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin who “discovered the composition of stars” and Inge Lehmann who “discovered Earth has a solid inner core”.
There is still a way to go in achieving true equality in the workplace, including life science. But by celebrating the incredible achievements that women have made and encouraging future generations to embrace their talents, we can forge the path to even more excellence in the sciences.