Kolkata, Mar 8 (GCEntertainment) On International Women’s Day, we celebrate all the women who have had a pioneering role in advancing science and health.
One of the best known was Florence Nightingale, a 19th- century statistician and founder of modern nursing, who understood the benefits of hygiene and sanitation in preventing disease.
Fe del Mundo a paediatrician from the Philippines, who went on to do pioneering work on infectious diseases including dengue, was the first female student at Harvard Medical School.
Anandi Gopal Joshi was one of the first Indian female doctors, appointed physician-in-charge at a hospital in central India, before she died of tuberculosis aged just 22.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, born shortly after Florence Nightingale, taught herself French so that she could obtain a medical degree at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. She became Britain’s first female doctor.
In the 20th century, Anne Szarewski discovered the cause of cervical cancer, leading to the first-ever HPV vaccine and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi’s work on HIV was fundamental to the identification of the virus as the cause of AIDS.
In 2019, however, women are still only a third of researchers worldwide, on average. Some regions such as Central Asia as well as Latin America and the Caribbean have a nearly equal gender balance, but in Europe and North America, the proportion of women remains around 30-35 per cent.
Women also struggle to rise up the ranks of both health and science. Women make up just 12 per cent of the membership of national science academies around the world. Female health workers comprise 70 per cent of the health workforce worldwide, yet women occupy only 25 per cent of leadership positions in health.
And the pay differential is high: the gender pay gap in health and social sectors is around 26 per cent in high-income countries and 29 per cent in upper-middle income countries