International Women’s Day 2019—Is the digital divide making it too late to innovate?

Here we are in March, longer days and the official start of spring, and the promise of renewed life as plant life push through the last of the snow.
March 8 annually ushers in its wake the moment to celebrate the contributions of women and the revitalization of efforts to achieve gender equality in Canada and other parts of the Diaspora. It is a day when without regard to divisions—be they national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political—women are recognized for their achievements.
While there appears to be some controversy as to how the first Women’s Day was established, there is one agreement—historically at any rate—that it was really socialist. According to the United Nations, the first National Women’s Day occurred in the United States on Feb. 28, 1909, organized by the Socialist Party of America to honor the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York.
In 1910, the concept for an international Women’s Day was put up for discussion in Copenhagen by the Socialist International and was first celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on Mar. 19, 1911. People marched to demonstrate support for women’s suffrage and to cease discrimination at work.
The first time it was celebrated on Mar. 8 was in 1917 when Russian women protested for “Bread and Peace” against the backdrop of World War 1.
Days later, Czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne and women were granted the right to vote by the provisional government.
In 1922, Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Russian Communist Party, made the day an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and over the next few decades it was celebrated mostly in communist countries, including China, where even today women are given a half day off from work. in 2019, International Women’s Day will also be celebrated as a public holiday in the city of Berlin, Germany. The United Nations brought the idea back to the western world in 1975, when it celebrated International Women’s Year and adopted the same celebration date as the communist countries.
Since the 1990s, the UN started adopting an annual theme for the day. It has become a global day of recognition of women’s achievements and a call to action to support women’s rights and advance gender equality.
The theme for 2019 International Women’s Day is hashtag #Innovate for Change, and is a call to action, requesting everyone to mobilize the power of technology to create a more egalitarian world. Both innovation and technology can assist in empowering girls and women. Still a germinating digital divide means that women remain underrepresented in fields such as science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM). Therefore let us turn around this trend and innovate for change. It is not too late to Innovate and keep change within range.
In Canada, only a third of graduates in STEM are women, a difference that’s magnified in fields such as engineering and computer science. Meanwhile, Canada and other countries face major job shortages in many STEM fields.
Women of color are also missing in STEM, and any effort at correcting this seeming deficit must begin from childhood. We need to encourage girls NOW so that they grow into smart, capable, and driven women who take their rightful place in the world of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Past social ills and stereotypes molded females into secretaries and housewives instead of scientists and tech entrepreneurs. When women are held back from filling high-quality jobs like these, Canada’s economy is also held back.
Usually, very early in their academic life, most girls see the innovation and individuality drain from STEM curriculum, and science and math become only series of numbers, temperatures, and chemical components.
In Montreal where only a few schools in the English Montreal and Lester B Pearson School Boards offer the Stem program, the damage is already done by the time college comes around. Noting that the problem starts in childhood, then, should be the point at which the rectification process begins.
Both parents and educators should be tasked with steering young women into STEM careers with driven educational programs that arouse creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and collaboration. Females, especially young women of color, can and should be the next scientists who cure diseases, explore space and create impactful technology.
Now is the time to Act; that is a fact.
With the tremendous inequity young Black women face, educators and parents have to inspire them early. It is up to us to show them just how valuable they are.
Women who have come forward and are pursuing studies in STEAM alias Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics are an inspiration to many. Let us all together work to create more opportunities for women and girls in STEAM, where they can help shape our future into one of greater equality and prosperity for everyone.
It is of vital importance that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.
As such we must be prepared to arrange the change and innovate so that STEAM programs never abate.
Happy Women’s Day.