February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science – a day established by the United Nations to recognise the critical role women and girls play in science and technology, and to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.
A cause that we need to get behind, of course!
At Brain Research New Zealand, we have been running initiatives that aim to encourage more girls into science and fight the gender biases in science as early as we can. Our Being Brainy programme is taking neuroscience to primary and intermediate schools, teaching young students about the wonders of the brain and giving them a first taste of what it’s like to be a scientist. When they’re older, they get to compete in Brain Bee, an exciting neuroscience competition, which for some students, is a stepping stone for studying science at university.
That’s just the beginning though!
We have taken International Day of Women and Girls in Science as an occasion to do more. This year, Brain Research New Zealand is supporting a campaign by best-selling author Laurie Winkless to get a copy of “Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research that’s Rewriting the Story” into every secondary school in New Zealand. The book, written by Angela Saini, celebrates women’s contributions to science, and challenges and debunks the biases and gender-based stereotypes in science. It gives girls and women the tools to fight biases and the research that proves that gender or sex does not limit their potential.
We are also dedicating February to visit as many girls’ and co-ed secondary schools as we can, sending some of our top female researchers to talk about their careers in science and show young girls how it can be done. Research from the UK has shown that students who spend time with working scientists have a much more positive impression of STEM careers than those who only hear about it from their teachers. So, we hope that through our school outreach, we will inspire the next generation of scientists and help them dream big!
Finally, we are taking International Day of Women and Girls in Science as an opportunity to showcase some of the brilliant female neuroscientist who work at our research centre. We have asked them what they love most about their work, what inspires them, and how they overcome challenges. Plus, they’ve shared some excellent pieces of advice with us!
These are just a few of the many exceptional women researchers in our centre – and we’ll make sure you’ll get to meet many more of them. But for now, read about some of our female superstars who are making their mark in the New Zealand science landscape and beyond: