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.
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%.
Women also struggle to rise up the ranks of both health and science. Women make up just 12% of the membership of national science academies around the world. Female health workers comprise 70% of the health workforce worldwide, yet women occupy only 25% of leadership positions in health.
However, it is important to transform the very systems that women work in. This may require re-examining traditional career trajectories and methods of promotion.