Wednesday 14

The HYPATIA project encourages girls to study STEM

Posted by "la Caixa" Foundation on 14 Oct 2015

HYPATIA is aimed at girls aged thirteen to eighteen both in and out of the educational setting. Its primary goal will be to interest these teenagers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree courses.

The latest surveys carried out reveal that the methods used to communicate science to young people, both in and out of schools and colleges, do not take a gender perspective into account. Moreover, European teenagers of both sexes are barely aware of the range of degree courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known by the acronym STEM, or which aptitudes are relevant to these academic subjects. These two factors help to determine number of girls choosing science-related courses. Statistics show that there is a noticeable gender gap, with much fewer girls choosing to study for STEM degrees.

For these reasons, the need for change is becoming increasingly urgent. In the European Union in the coming years, with the development of a knowledge economy and a growing role for new technology, the number of degree courses in which STEM skills will be necessary will be greater than ever. With the arrival of responsible research and innovation (RRI) at the top of the European agenda, STEM degree courses must be increasingly oriented towards the needs of society

Therefore, a competitive Europe will only be possible if more girls are told about the different STEM degrees, as well as creating the right conditions to arouse their interest. To achieve this goal, we must consider how to communicate about science and present STEM degrees, and work towards a degree course design more in tune with gender equality. The HYPATIA project came into being for this purpose.

HYPATIA is a project financed by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 framework programme. The aim of HYPATIA is to put schools, science museums, research institutes and industry in touch with experts in gender issues and with teenagers themselves in order to create a package of guidelines, modules and activities to arouse the interest of European adolescents aged between thirteen and eighteen in and out of the education system in the STEM model. This project will run over three years (2015-2018) and the activities that emerge from it will be implemented in fourteen countries in the European Union and elsewhere. "la Caixa" Banking Foundation is part of this collaborative project, which is coordinated by the NEMO science centre in Holland.

The HYPATIA consortium will be made up of a set of fourteen nodes or hubs in order to ensure high take-up, as well as the fourteen countries directly involved. Its effects will reach beyond Europe through ECSITE, Scientix, RRI Tools and other related networks. The expected impacts will involve a change in how science is communicated and a notable increase in participation by European young people in the STEM model. This will help to achieve the European Research Area's goal of boosting the number of women researchers in Europe.

Sonia Garcinuño Jiménez

Sonia Garcinuño Jiménez works at the Science and Environment Department of  "la Caixa" Banking Foundation in Barcelona, the coordinator of the RRI Tools project 

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