Global Goal #5: Sustainability Requires Equal Opportunity
On International Women’s Day, I wanted to bring attention to the United Nation’s 5th Global Goal for Sustainable Development, the goal of gender equality. For society to be truly sustainable, everyone needs to be provided the same opportunity to thrive. When we think about sustainability, we often default to the idea of protecting the environment, but the concept needs to be expanded to include economic and social development as well. If humanity is going to spring forward, everyone needs to have an equal seat at the table.
Traditionally, there have been very few women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). What a travesty and so many missed opportunities for women to be able to contribute to technological innovation for the advancement of society. Things are said to be gradually changing, but not fast enough for my liking — women still make less than a man for doing the same job. In my environmental career, gender discrimination has been a regular thing. It was not something I was expecting, but something I had to get used to if I wanted to endure in my position. On at least two occasions, the gender discrimination that I faced was a determining factor in moving on to other work positions.
One of my previous publications highlighted the inventor of Bluetooth, Hedy Lamarr. During the height of her career in the 1940s she was more notably known as a beautiful film star, but also happened to invent frequency hopping to help second world war efforts. She was ignored at first. Not only was it revolutionary for a woman to be a technology inventor, the technology which she invented was itself ground-breaking. Her invention laid the foundation for the creation of all wireless communication, including Bluetooth and WiFi, which completely disrupted society as we know it. May we all be as courageous as Hedy Lamarr to raise our voice, even if it may take a while for someone to listen.