By: Gloria Morales y Aracely Clemente
Access to education for women has increased, and they have gained more recognition in areas of research, academics, politics and so on. Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that the process through which women have accessed education was gradual. Decades ago, women were exempt from being recognized and/or admitted to these educational spaces.
In academia, the participation of women is minimum in contrast to the male participation. Historically, the majority of people who have been recognized for their contribution to the world, have been strongly represented by male population. Even though it is known that many women have significantly contributed to the sciences and economics, without receiving any type of recognition.
For instance, in the area of economics, Anna Schwart, co-author of A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960 alongside Milton Friedman, was not awarded the Economics Nobel Prize, while Friedman did. It is important to highlight the impact of the book on the United States government, as it influenced changes in their economic policies in order to manage the ebbs and flows of economic actions (WEFORUM, 2015).
Another example in the scientific and technological field is Lise Meitner. She worked with Otto Hahn in the discovery of nuclear fission for decades. Their research proved that the nuclei of the atomic bomb split in two. The publication of these findings mentioned Hahn as the author, without mentioning Lisa as co-author or contributor. In 1994, Hahn won the Nobel prize in Chemistry because of his contributions to splitting the atom (BBC, 2015).
A significant milestone in the history of women’s recognition occurred when Marie Curie became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize in 1903. Not only that, but a few years later during the First World War, she became the first person to win two Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry. Since then, only ten other women have won the Prize. Madame Curie paved the way for women to be recognized in the sciences, thus encouraging them to look forward to a brighter future.
Nowadays, we can find many examples of women who occupy and lead powerful positions all over the world. This change is reflected in the increase of programs that support female education.
Angela Merkel is a world reference for female leadership. She stands out as Germany's first female head of government. During her four terms in power, she managed to cope with the collapse of the global financial system in 2008, threats of the dissolution of the European Union, the great wave of migration to Europe in 2015, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Merkel is widely recognized as the foremost political leader in Europe, sending a strong message of empowerment to women across the world. (BBC News, 2021)
It is important to also mention examples of female leadership at a national scope, such as Fabiola León-Velarde, PhD in Science from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. Throughout her career she has managed to produce extensive research that is nationally and internationally recognized for academic work in the biological and physiological sciences. León-Velarde has achieved the highest position in the promotion, financing and execution of science in Peru. She served as President of the National Council for Science, Technology and Technological Innovation for four years. (Sinapsis-Peru, 2020). Her work has enhanced the management skills of women in the leadership of scientific institutions, setting a valuable precedent that proves that training and professional experience are the real criteria for assuming these positions.
In economics, it is found that women are also breaking down myths such as "men are the financial workers par excellence". The former Peruvian Minister of Economy and Finance, María Antonieta Alva Luperdi, holds a Master’s degree in Public Management and International Development from Harvard University. She also has extensive professional experience in the public sector (AS/COA, 2020). During her administration, she managed to cope with one of the worst financial crises in decades since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She focused her attention on containing and preparing for the reactivation of the Peruvian economy. In addition, she had to deal with the agenda of a populist congress, which actions obstructed the central government (Bloomberg, 2020).
It is important to emphasize that the role of women, in educational and working fields or just in spaces that are traditionally male dominated, is to continue inspiring other women. Globally, 55% of women (ages 15 to 64) already participate in the workforce, compared to 78% of men (World Economic Forum, 2019). Therefore, we must keep empowering and inspiring women to continue working on achieving their dreams and occupational interests. There is enough evidence that women can find success in areas like engineering, finances, administration, politics, social sciences, etc. Women’s contribution in academic and work fields contrasts and complements the male vision. Therefore, both working together will only bring benefits to the welfare of humanity.
AS/COA, (2020). María Antonieta Alva Luperdi, Finance and Economy Minister of Peru. Americas Society Council of the Americas.
BBC (2015). The women whom science forgot https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33157396
BBC News (2021). El perdurable legado de Angela Merkel, la poderosa líder de Europa que prepara su salida tras casi 16 años gobernando Alemania. https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-internacional-55698863
Bloomberg (2020). Peru’s 35-Year-Old Finance Minister Is Suddenly a Rock Star. Retrieve from: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-04/she-s-35-and-finance-minister-and-suddenly-a-rock-star-in-peru
Mujeres con ciencia (2015). Lise Meitner, la científica que descubrió la fisión nuclear. https://mujeresconciencia.com/2015/03/04/lise-meitner-la-cientifica-que-descubrio-la-fision-nuclear/
Sinapsis-Perú (2020). Dra. Fabiola León-Velarde. Presidenta del CONCYTEC. https://www.sinapsis-peru.org/dra-fabiola-leon-velarde
World Economic Forum (2019). Global Gender Gap Report 2020.
World Economic Forum (2015). 13 Women who transformed the area of economics.
NOBEL PRIZE (2021). Nobel Prize awarded women