Did you know that women constitute only about 35% of students in STEM related fields? Furthermore, as per studies by the World Economic Forum, only about 30% of researchers in the world are women, and only about 15% in India. Historically, women, as professionals, students and even as part of clinical trials, have been underrepresented in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, often due to societal gender biases and/or lack of opportunities. The gender disparity in these fields have far-reaching effects and closing this gap is key for solving global health problems at scale and sustainable development. And we are hopeful about bridging these gaps, one initiative at a time…
What is progress, if not inclusive and equitable? Let’s take a look at healthcare, for example. The need for stronger women’s voices – backed by expertise and experience is undeniable and brings immeasurable value to the table. Encouraging girls and women to find and solidify their spaces and explore their talents in Science and Technology will not only help doing away with stereotypes, but also help create targeted and more effective healthcare for gender-specific issues, leading to better outcomes.
Heath tech too is playing a part, and is opening the doors to more opportunities; by pushing us to create critical spaces for more women to bring in their diverse perspectives and expertise, widening the scope of what healthcare has to offer. Innovations in health technology and biomedical engineering today are helping us all understand, manage and handle our bodies and health better, and transforming healthcare at large. Gender inclusive perspectives and conversations in STEM education, research and leadership all serve to further boost this progress. The advent and growth of "Fem Tech" – female-centric technology-enabled products, services, solutions and diagnostics, geared towards meeting the needs of women’s healthcare is one such welcome convergence of the power of technology and the impact of more inclusive healthcare solutions.
“The UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science helps encourage them to embrace this field. Innovation is at the core of Abbott and that’s why one of our objectives is to increase diversity in our STEM talent pipeline by boosting access to STEM experiences for underrepresented groups. We empower our teams to be innovative and upgrade their skills to meet tomorrow’s health needs through learning and development opportunities, collaboration, mentoring, and networking.” – Mary Rodgers, Principal Research Scientist, Abbott.
While there have been global strides forward over the decades, two key aspects will help increase the number of women in STEM and related fields – mentorship and access to education. Giving girls the tools, knowledge, support and platform to explore scientific thought and careers, sans limits, can change the face of STEM as we know it. For the future of health and healthcare to be inclusive, women need to be a part of the decision-making that can bring change and inspire future generations of women to realize their highest potential. Only a healthcare system that recognizes and addresses the needs of every person, regardless of their gender or background, can lead us to a healthier tomorrow.