March 8th: A Tribute to Women in Science

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In the context of International Women’s Day this March 8th, we wish to reflect on the advancements and ongoing challenges in gender equality. Specifically, we aim to spotlight achievements in fields historically dominated by men, such as science and technology.
From our software development company, we want to pay homage to the women whose contributions have been crucial in scientific and technological progress and ponder on how we can foster a more inclusive future.

Brief History of March 8th, International Women’s Day

The commemoration of International Women’s Day dates back to the early 20th century, emerging from numerous labor and social mobilizations.
On March 8th, 1857, women working in the textile industry in New York, known as “garment workers,” organized a strike. They demanded fairer wages and more humane working conditions. However, for speaking out, they were arrested by police officers.

51 years later, on March 8th, 1908, 15,000 women took to the streets of New York again to demand a pay raise, shorter work hours, voting rights, and the prohibition of child labor. Their slogan was “Bread and Roses.” Bread symbolized economic security, and roses, a better quality of life.

In 1910, the second International Socialist Women’s meeting took place in Copenhagen, Denmark. On this occasion, it was proposed to establish a symbolic day—around March 8th—to advocate for the rights of all women, primarily the right to vote.

Indeed, pinpointing a single event as the sole reason for choosing March 8th is not straightforward. For many years, each generation has inherited the duty to fight for their rights and those of future generations.

The date of March 8th was officially marked as International Women’s Day by the United Nations in 1975, becoming a symbol of feminist struggle and the claim for rights and gender equality worldwide.

Women Scientists in History

Women have been contributing to the field of science from the beginning, often without the recognition they deserved.
Here are some pioneers we want to introduce you to today:

Marie Curie (1867-1934):

Born in Poland and naturalized French, Marie Curie was a physicist and chemist pioneering the study of radioactivity.

She was not only the first woman to win a Nobel Prize but also the only person in history to be awarded in two different scientific fields: Physics (1903, shared with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel) for her research on radiation phenomena, and Chemistry (1911) for the discovery of the elements radium and polonium.

Curie overcame numerous gender-related obstacles to pursue her career in science, including working in precarious conditions that eventually led to her death from complications attributed to radiation exposure. Her legacy includes not only her discoveries but also her role in creating mobile radiography units during World War I.

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958):

Rosalind Franklin was an English chemist and crystallographer whose work on X-ray diffraction was crucial for understanding the structure of DNA.

Although James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins received the Nobel Prize in 1962 for their model of the DNA double helix, Franklin’s work was fundamental to this discovery. Her X-ray photographs, especially the famous “Photograph 51,” provided the first clear evidence of DNA’s helical structure.

Franklin also made significant contributions to the study of viruses and coal. Unfortunately, she died at 37 from ovarian cancer, and her crucial role in the discovery of DNA’s structure was widely recognized only after her death.

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852):

Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, is recognized as the first computer programmer in history.

She worked alongside Charles Babbage on his analytical engine, an early precursor to the modern computer. Lovelace was the first to recognize the machine’s potential beyond simple number calculation, imagining the possibility that it could manipulate symbols according to rules and be capable of creating art and music.

She wrote the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine, making her a pioneer in the field of computing.

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020):

An American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics were fundamental to the success of the United States’ space missions, including John Glenn’s first manned spaceflight and the Apollo 11 moon landing. Johnson worked at NASA (and its predecessor, NACA) for over three decades, breaking racial and gender barriers.

Her skills in analytic geometry made her indispensable to the team, and her work helped secure confidence in the new era of space exploration.

In 2015, Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest civilian honors in the United States.

Grace Hopper (1906-1992):

Known as “Amazing Grace” for her contributions to computing, Grace Hopper was a pioneer in the field.

She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I, an electromechanical computer, and developed the first compiler, a program that translates instructions written in human language into code that the computer can understand. Hopper is also recognized for her role in the development of COBOL, one of the first high-level programming languages, designed to be accessible to business users.

Throughout her career in the U.S. Navy, Hopper worked tirelessly to make technology more accessible and understandable to all, paving the way for modern software.

Each of these women, with their discoveries and achievements, not only made significant contributions to their field but also paved the way for future generations of female scientists, showing that ingenuity and dedication know no gender.
Their stories are a powerful testament to the importance of promoting gender equality in all areas of society, especially in science and technology.

March 8th: Having Role Models for Girls and Young Women

The presence of role models is crucial for inspiring future generations. Examples of successful women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are vital to encourage girls and young women to explore these areas, demonstrating that gender does not define intellectual capacity nor limit professional success. Female role models not only inspire but also provide tangible proof of possible achievements, helping to dismantle gender stereotypes and fostering a culture of equality and respect.

March 8th: Gender Parity in Science and Technology

To achieve true gender parity in scientific and technological fields, it would be necessary to implement strategic measures, such as:

Promoting inclusive STEM educational programs from an early age: It is crucial to foster a pedagogical approach that motivates both girls and boys equally, offering equal resources and opportunities for their development.

Implementing mentorship programs and visibility for women in STEM: Creating mentorship networks that connect professional women in STEM with students and recent graduates. These networks can provide guidance, inspiration, and practical support.

Promoting equality policies in the workplace: This includes ensuring pay equality, promoting gender balance in work teams, and offering an inclusive and discrimination-free work environment.

Increasing female representation in leadership positions: It is essential that women not only participate in science and technology but also hold decision-making and leadership roles, from where they can influence policies and practices.

Supporting research and projects led by women: Providing financial resources, recognition, and platforms for women to lead research and innovation projects contributes to a greater diversity of ideas and solutions.

In Closing

The celebration of March 8th, International Women’s Day, is an annual reminder of the importance of continuing to work towards a society where gender equality is a reality in all areas, including science and technology.

By promoting equity, we not only move towards a fairer world but also enrich the scientific and technological field with a greater diversity of thoughts, experiences, and perspectives.

From Unimedia, we reiterate our commitment to these values and to building a future where the presence of women in science is not a fact to celebrate, but the norm.

Remember that at Unimedia, we are experts in emerging technologies, so feel free to contact us if you need advice or services. We’ll be happy to assist you.

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