International Day of Women and Girls in Science (#IDWGS) is celebrated on February 11 every year around the world. It was first announced by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, as a global movement recognising women and girls in science, not only as beneficiaries but also as agents of change and celebrates leaders and inspiring role models in science – who are women.

The theme for this, the 7th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly is “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us". Water is the basis of the fluids of living organisms, essential to our survival and thus unites us all. We also recognise that science and gender equality are vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This year we are celebrating #IDWGS by sharing nine stories involving thirteen inspiring women and their careers in science. Together we hope to inspire other women and girls to follow their passions and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (#STEMM).

These stories explore the opportunities and challenges for girls and women in careers in STEMM and were selected for their positive impacts to improve water in Victoria and beyond, and thus to our environment and the health and wellbeing of communities this IDWGS Day.

Partnerships for gender equality in science

Since the first International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015, the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist and Victoria’s Lead Scientist have collaborated to celebrate this important day. Along with The Royal Society of Victoria, Inspiring Victoria and In2Science as collaborators in 2021.

Thanks to our partners: Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria’s Lead Scientist (Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions), Dr Mark Patrick Taylor, Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist (EPA Victoria) and The Royal Society of Victoria. Thank you also to contributors from Emergency Management Victoria and the Department of Health for helping to bring these stories to life that profile scientists from a range of organisations including, Phillip Island Nature Parks, EPA Victoria, RMIT University, Monash University, Emergency Management Victoria and Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water.

Linking to the Sustainable Development Goals

This day raises awareness and supports us to accelerate progress towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). Acknowledging the indivisible nature of the Sustainable Development Goals, the day also supports Goal 4 – Quality Education, Goal 5 – Gender equality, Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, as well as Goal 17 – Partnerships for the goals.

Quotes attributable to Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Dr Gillian Sparks AM:

“Scientists are problem solvers; they help shape societies and save lives. A big thank you to the thirteen fantastic women for sharing their stories and to all women in STEMM for the work they do, every day,” says Commissioner Gillian Sparkes AM.

Quotes attributable to Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples:

“This year’s theme centres on water, which unites us in the way we need it today, how we care for it into the future; and what it means for humanity’s progress as we explore new frontiers. These stories demonstrate the crucial work women scientists are doing now to ensure water’s fair and efficient use, its health, and how we safeguard its future” says Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples.

Quotes attributable to Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist, Professor Mark Patrick Taylor:

“At EPA some of our leading woman scientists are central to our water team that has specific responsibilities around managing Victoria’s water quality, including safe use our rivers and coastal sites for swimming. The success and profile of Ms Martino, Dr Sardina and Dr Zuccala characterises the abundant opportunities for achievement by women in science at EPA.”

We invite secondary students and teachers to explore the suite of stories on the Commissioner’s website.

Further information

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Are you a young person or do you know a young person interested in pursuing a STEMM career? Ever wanted to be part of improving our waterways and our natural environment? Are you fascinated by space and spatial technologies? Are you curious about animal behaviour or marine life? Or do you simply love all things science? Read and share the stories to discover the various pathways to a career in science.