Thank you, Ambassador. And let me thank all of you at the Italian, French, and German Embassies, the Children’s National Research Institute, and the George Washington University. Congratulations on the launch of the Week of Women and Girls in Science, and the Women in Science Diplomacy Club.
Advancing gender equity and equality in science and science diplomacy is important, and it has been a long time coming. Each event or initiative like these is a small step toward maximizing human potential.
To that end, we need to act with urgency and with purpose.
If we expect to address the major challenges of our time through scientific discovery and innovation, we need to harness the perspectives and brainpower of the world’s greatest minds. That means including more women in science – and in science diplomacy. And we need to have more than a few women holding leadership positions in those fields.
The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes this reality, and the Administration is making sure its actions meet the demands of this reality – advancing equity and equality across all aspects of diversity, including race, gender, and age.
It’s why the White House issued the first-ever national gender strategy and an interagency Strategy on Global Women’s Economic Security.
Both strategies call for initiatives to close gender gaps in science, technology, math, and medicine so that women and girls can shape the workforce of the future.
These strategies include support for reskilling and vocational education in those fields, green and blue jobs, and other high-paying fields. They also promote experiential learning to connect young women with like-minded peers and successful role models.
At the State Department – in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, or O-E-S, we actively address opportunities and gaps where these issues intersect with diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. It is important to me and my team that we draw expertise from women and men representing the full range of diversity in the United States.
As we work to increase the participation of women in science and technology, it is important to remember the long history of remarkable women who have made – and are making – enormous contributions to science, often after overcoming extraordinary barriers.
Take, for example, the great Italian (and American) scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini. She won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for her work in neurobiology.
We can look to Germany and acknowledge the work of Christiane Nusslein Volhard. She earned the Nobel Prize in 1995 for her work in genetics.
And, of course, France gave the world physicist Marie Curie, with her pioneering research on radioactivity. And, yes, she also won a Nobel Prize.
Let me highlight another trailblazer who might be less familiar: U.S. astronaut Nicole Mann, who become the first Native American woman in space.
What is she doing now? Well, Colonel Mann is currently orbiting the earth on the International Space Station. She is also inspiring girls who are literally aiming for the stars.
Sometimes contributions of women in science have been hidden or in the background. This was famously depicted in the film Hidden Figures, which you are showing this week.
You may not know this, but U.S. Embassies and Consulates screened the movie to tens of thousands of women and girls around the world. The screenings generated productive discussions on racial and gender equality and on women in science and technology.
Inspired by the film, the State Department launched a professional exchange program in 2017 called “#HiddenNoMore: Empowering Women Leaders in STEM.” This initiative, now in its fourth year, works to address the barriers women face and has built a network of women leaders.
As we celebrate the Week of Women and Girls in Science, remember that women – some hidden, some not – have a strong track record in science. It is our job to ensure many, many more women follow these footsteps to become scientists (and diplomats) and change the world.
Again, congratulations on the start of a powerful week of activities for the Week of Women and Girls in Science and on the launch of the Women in Science Diplomacy Club. Thank you.