Historically, science has provided keys to eliminating sexist, racist, and environmentally damaging policies. But science is under attack: President Trump conflates scientific fact with matters of opinion, and has moved to slash funding to education, healthcare, research, and environmental protections. Women are on the front-lines of this assault.
Educating girls and women in sciences is essential to overcome threats to our health and environment. If women are not at the table, then neither will be women’s interests and needs – think reproductive health-care, environmental threats that disproportionately affect women and unborn children, and diseases that afflict only women. Today, women make up only 29% of the STEM workforce, and Trump proposes no initiatives to promote women in sciences. On the contrary, his budget proposal guts federal education spending by $9 billion.
To make matters worse, women who enter the STEM workforce face significant wage gaps. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, women in computer and mathematical sciences were paid thirteen percent less than their male counterparts for the same work. And Forbes reported that in the health sciences, the difference is even greater. Women cardiologists, for example, are paid 29% less than male cardiologists. Instead of addressing the problem, the Trump administration has deleted any reference to the wage gap from its website.
The White House’s proposed budget also slashes the National Institutes of Health’s spending by $5.8 billion. Without public support, only the most profitable ailments will be researched by companies. Healthcare innovation will be based on profit instead of need. Think Rogaine and Viagra over treatment of PCOS – an under-researched and devastating disease affecting millions of women – or a cure for breast cancer.
The Trump Administration’s approach to women’s healthcare is especially alarming. A recent executive order allows funding for services related to breast and cervical cancer screening, fertility, pregnancy care, contraception, and treatment for sexually transmitted infections to be cut depending on whether other medical care – abortions – are available from the medical provider.
The greatest threat to science and women, however, is global warming. Climate change deniers – who erroneously maintain that science is an opinion rather than a process for determining facts – are making environmental policy. The executive orders aimed to roll back environmental regulations signed by the president will expedite global warming and the destruction of our air and water quality. If we do not fight for science and for women in science, then all of humanity will pay a grave price.
Andrea Azcárate, Scientist and Organizer Women’s March On Raleigh & Women Mobilize NC
Shana Becker, Organizer Women’s March On Raleigh & Women Mobilize NC