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15 February 2019

Women and Girls in Science Podcast Series: Epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta

According to the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum, 16 per cent of women globally, compared to 37 per cent of men, graduate with a degree in a STEM field of study (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  This exclusion of women and girls has important implications not only for scientific research, innovation and development, but also for women’s economic participation and inclusion.  A 2017 report estimates that 85 per cent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented, many jobs that exist today will be lost to automation and most jobs of the future will require some facility in STEM-related subjects. If women are to be included in the employment and economic future of tomorrow, they must be included in STEM fields today. 

To promote the empowerment of women and girls in STEM and raise awareness about the need for gender inclusion in science and technology, in 2015 the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

United Nations Academic Impact sees STEM education as an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the participation of women and girls as vital to the success of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  In this series commemorating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, UNAI speaks to women scientists, researchers, engineers and tech innovators to find out how they are contributing to their fields and their advice for young women who want to forge a path in the male-dominated world of STEM. 

The fifth interview in our series is with Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, where she researches the evolution of infectious diseases and has made important contributions to epidemiology. In 2009 she was awarded the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her work and she received the Scientific Medal from the Zoological Society of London for her scientific achievements.

Additionally, Prof. Gupta is highly regarded for her work as a novelist and essayist. Her book, So Good in Black, was recognized by the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and her novels have been awarded the Southern Arts Literature Prize and Sahitya Akademi Award. She graduated from Princeton University and has a PhD from the University of London.

Listen to UNAI’s interview with Prof. Gupta to learn about her research in infectious diseases, what she views as the greatest threats to human health and her advice for women and girls interested in science.

The following resources provide more information on Professor Sunetra Gupta and initiatives for women and girls who aspire to work in medicine and other STEM-related fields:

  • Go here to find a list of Professor Sunetra Gupta’s novels and here for a list of some of her work in science.
  • Click here to learn about the Medical Women’s International Association.
  • See how the American Medical Women’s Association promotes women in medicine here.
  • Learn more about UNESCO’s initiatives for women and girls in STEM here.
  • Get more information on Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls here.