Towards parity in science professions

Motivation is key when choosing a career or which studies to pursue, but also someone who encourages students to pursue their interests. In this line, the Steam Girls Day was born, organized for the second consecutive year at the INS Baix Camp, which is part of the educational projects of STEAMCat.

The center set itself three objectives: to increase scientific, technological and mathematical vocations, especially for women and people in disadvantaged social contexts, to reinforce the process of guiding students towards the STEAM field, and to improve personal attitudes towards these learning areas.

With this, the II Steam Girls Conference intended to give visibility to women scientists and provide tools to future students, for the academic and professional world.

The day consisted of a talk by the PhD in Chemical Sciences and professor of engineering at the Rovira i Virgili University Núria Ruiz, who explained to the high school students her career as a scientific disseminator. In addition, he incorporated the figure of the Chinese scientist Tu Youyou, Nobel Prize in 2015, into his speech. Thus, he held a “double talk, explaining a close vital history and taking someone of international reference to see how a scientific history is built”, Ruiz explains. The teacher points out that she got a feedback very interesting and that both the students and the students -who had asked to attend the talk- were very participatory.

Also, the INS Baix Camp theater hosted a round table with five former students who shared their experience as a closer example that encouraged young women to ‘deep’ into science. As an informal colloquium, the high school students were able to resolve their doubts and concerns through the tour of Lorena Acedo, renewable energy technician, Anna Bartolí, Electronic Engineering student, Judit Bofill, Telecommunications Engineering student, Carina Boiciuc, student of Architecture, and Neus Oller, student of Computer Engineering.

His first-hand experiences spoke of the difficulties at the university, the different formative paths to ‘explore’, the knowledge acquired and numerous reflections that go beyond academic orientation.

What’s more, both the tutors of the institute and the moderator of the act, the chemist Josepa de María, stressed that “success is in the teams that work”, that is, they claimed the importance of companionship, getting rid of egos and working in groups with very different people.

In this empowering climate, the ‘speakers’ pointed out the difference in terms of parity between men and women that still exists in the classroom. “Because you are a woman, you have to demonstrate triple the knowledge of your peers, so that they don’t walk all over you,” said Oller.

Expand the ‘fan’

These first-person tips allow the students of the Scientific-Technological Baccalaureate to learn about different realities and identify with ‘stories’ that are very close to them, as former students of the INS Baix Camp, by age and by professional interests. “It is a way of showing a more real point of view with which we feel identified or see ourselves represented”, highlights Mar Carré, a high school student.

What is needed for them to take that step forward is “that they have references, see that this is possible and that they are as capable as any man”, concludes Núria Ruiz. Of course, the change is already beginning to be evident, as the student Maria Cabré points out: «Lately, there are more women who are encouraged to pursue science degrees, it is very good that they promote them among girls».

In fact, although she and her colleagues continue to doubt which studies to choose, they consider that “the more information they have, the better they can see what it is about and decide,” says Anna Savitska. They are even aware of the flexibility of the sector and that they have many possibilities, something that “calms them down when it comes to choosing one career or another,” they agree.

This Steam Girls conference has been an initiative that will complement the “STEAM Setmana”, dedicated to women in science careers, which the center will organize in mid-February for ESO and BAT students.

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Towards parity in science professions