Inspirational girls and women in STEM

Published on 12/06/2018

Whether they are girls just a few years older who have begun their studies in STEM subjects (sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics), famous researchers, even astronauts, teachers, or the woman next door, role models can be compared to lighthouses: they offer a steady point of reference for girls in choosing an orientation or a career. Role models are a strong lever that can be activated in order to attract more girls to STEM studies and careers, whether they interact directly with pupils in schools or are quoted to illustrate lessons.

In this context, on 7 June 2018 in Walferdange (LU), together with the National Education Training Institute (IFEN), Women in Digital Initiatives Luxembourg (WIDE) and its European partners, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) organized the training conference entitled “How to increase girl's participation in STEM disciplines? Gender fair teaching good practices"

A look back at the training conference

As part of the ongoing Erasmus+ project "Gender aware education and teaching" (Gender4STEM), this event brouhght about 40 participants, among them lower and upper secondary school teachers in STEM subjects and representatives from Digital Lëtzebuerg, as well the Ministry for Equal Opportunities. In an interactive way, they found out more about the European Showcase of good practices and role models to increase girls' participation in STEM disciplines.

Participants discovered a preview of some of the guidelines, with initiatives like Italian digital summer camps or Dutch speed dating with role models to be transferred to Luxembourg. Moreover, they were able to draw on the experiences of teenagers and working women to increase interest in STEM disciplines among their own female pupils. Concrete examples included Valeria Cagnina, who had founded her own School in robotics tech and digital in Italy or Maria Corbet Nits who has worked as a Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning designer engineer especially for the construction of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants and has created her own company in Romania. Now girls can participate with their classes in the fun workshops proposed by the Scienteens Lab, in order to spark greater interest in STEM disciplines among girls.

Bridging the gender gap with Gender4STEM

On the occasion of the 2018 International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the European Commission and Eurostat published the news article « Women in science » : in 2016, from the 17 million scientists and engineers in the EU, 60% were men and 40% women. (…) In three EU Member States, the majority of scientists and engineers were women: Lithuania (58% female), Bulgaria (54%) and Latvia (52%). Less than one third of scientists and engineers were women in Luxembourg (25%), Finland (28%), Hungary (31%), Austria (32%) and Germany (33%). More information can be found online, as well as the source data.

Gender4STEM aims to tackle the low representation of girls in STEM education and subsequently women in STEM careers. The ambition is to support secondary-level teachers by providing them with educational and awareness-raising materials to boost girls’ interest in STEM. Thus, the project focuses on the creation of an e-learning platform, on which teachers can find valuable contents like guidelines to organise engaging actions for girls in STEM and filmed interviews of inspiring female role models presented during the conference. At the end of 2018 the project will provide teachers a first prototype of the platform for testing. In parallel, the team will develop a useful training offer for teachers’ curricula. More information about this project can be found on www.gender4stem-project.eu.

About Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. The aim of Erasmus+ is to contribute to the Europe 2020 strategy for growth, jobs, social equity and inclusion, as well as the aims of ET2020, the EU's strategic framework for education and training. Erasmus+ also aims to promote the sustainable development of its partners in the field of higher education, and contribute to achieving the objectives of the EU Youth Strategy. Read more on ec.europa.eu.

> For any questions related to this topic, please contact Marie Gallais via email.

> Visit the Training-Conference's photo album on photogallery.list.lu.

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Marie GALLAIS
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