The pioneering event for this annual initiative honouring the International Day of Women and Girls in Science was initiated in Bologna on 11 February 2019. “Women of CTA” gathers three experts from the astrophysics and engineering fields to share their academic, professional and personal experience in science and contributions to CTA. The event was created as part of the global effort to raise awareness and find solutions to gender inequality and the overall under-representation of women in science. Despite international efforts to move equality forward, which is fundamental to developing a healthy and productive environment to achieve social and scientific goals, women still represent less than 30% of the total researchers worldwide . Moreover, according to a United Nations study in 14 countries around the world, the probability of female students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or Doctorate degree in science are 18%, 8% or 2%, respectively, against the 37%, 18% or 6% for male students . The disparity is also visible through the so-called “Leaky Pipeline:” a metaphor used to illustrate how women enter the field at a higher percentage but drop off as they move to the higher stages of their career. And at an even more fundamental level, girls run into gender stereotypes before starting undergraduate degrees, deterring them from pursuing scientific/technological careers compared to degrees in humanities. As one of the important factors that gives rise to these disparities is the reduced visibility of female leaders and their achievements in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers, we hope that highlighting women who are leading and contributing to CTA will create a spark for girls and women interested in or already pursuing a STEM career.
(Photo credit: Tiziana Abegg, CTAO)