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Breaking down Gender Barriers in Science


(From left to right) Moderator Martin Nesirky and Panellists Margit Fischer, Mary Alice Hayward, and Anna Relle Stieger discuss the need for gender equality in science.

Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Management (DDG-MT) Mary Alice Hayward emphasized the commitment of IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and her own personal commitment to bringing more girls and women into scientific and technical disciplines at a 12 February film screening event to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The Deputy Director General spoke about the IAEA's efforts to increase the representation of women at the Agency, and highlighted examples of the IAEA's cooperation with Member States to educate young people, especially girls, about science through its Technical Cooperation program.

"It really is about equality," DDG Hayward said. "Science doesn’t recognize gender. It’s about the beauty and power of what science can do for the community."

The panel discussion followed a screening of Code Girl (2015), which spotlights girls from around the world as they compete in the Technovation Challenge, a contest that empowers high school-aged girls to solve real world problems through technology. The film follows teams of girls from Brazil, Nigeria, India, and the United States as they design, develop, and pitch mobile applications to address a challenge in their own community.

"I was so impressed by the creativity, energy, and curiosity that these girls displayed," DDG Hayward commented after the screening. "The curiosity is key – everyone I work with at the IAEA has an innate desire to ask questions and learn, which is a fundamental driver for success in science."

DDG Hayward was joined on the panel by former First Lady of Austria Margit Fischer, Chair of Verein ScienceCenter-Netzwerk, and Anna Relle Stieger, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Acodemy. The conversation was moderated by Martin Nesirky, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna. The event, part of the UNIS Ciné-ONU series, was organized in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the United States.

Panellists agreed that providing positive role models and introducing girls to scientific and technical disciplines at a young age is essential to improving the representation of women in these fields.

"As grown-ups, we have a responsibility to impact young people and make sure they have the educational opportunities to succeed," DDG Hayward said. "I don’t necessarily see obstacles to attracting more girls to scientific disciplines, but I do see a need for more societal encouragement."

Learn more about the IAEA's commitment to gender equality.

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