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14 septiembre 2017Bilbao

Deusto nurtures technology competences among women with initiatives recognised in the media

The Faculty of Engineering of the University of Deusto is committed to the problem of young people's lack of interest in technology, particularly girls. Forecasts suggest that by 2025, 7 million people with STEM professional profiles (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) will be needed only in Europe. This could be a problem considering that women make up the 51.1 % of EU’s population (EUROSTAT 2017), that the presence of women in these areas is quite small and that the trend does not seem to reverse. Among the many factors that inhibit female technological vocations there are: the lack of knowledge about these professions, gender stereotypes or the invisibility of women throughout history. Linked to this, there is the lack of referrals from women working in technological areas. This is, precisely, the focus of Deusto's MujerTekSpace project.

Aware that the loss of women talent in STEM is a process of multiple phases and moments, Deusto has launched, within the WomenTekSpace project, several initiatives targeting different audiences and ages: an exhibition on important women technologists throughout history, the INSPIRA project, and the Ada Byron Award to Women Technologist. The first two projects have been identified in the list of the Casio website under the title 10 Spanish reference cases supporting women´s scientific work.

Both initiatives have received extensive attention from the media, which shows the great social impact that these two initiatives are having. Since its first edition, the Ada Byron Award has captured media attention, both at the national and local levels. At the national level, renowned newspapers such as El País or El Mundo and radio channels have acknowledged the innovative contribution of the Award to the visibility of women technologist. Likewise, at the local level, many media have echoed the launching of the Award (El Correo, El Periódico de Extremadura, among others). In particular, great attention has been paid to the winners after being awarded the prize, which clearly contributes to their career progression and provide at the same time young scientist with real female references and models. (See news about Montserrat Meya Llopart, Andrea Blanco, Nuria Oliver, Asunción Gómez Pérez, Begoña García Zapirain and Regina Llopis).

Providing young girls with female references and models is the main goal of the INSPIRA project. The project aims at promoting girls´ technological vocation during primary education by providing referrals from women technologists from a close environment. To this end, INSPIRA carries out raising-awareness and orientation activities that are carried out by professional women from the fields of research, science and technology. INSPIRA’s approach is very innovative since it applies a group mentoring methodology to promote STEAM vocations in primary education. Mentors (female technologists) collaborate with girls participating in six “one-hour” working sessions during school time, addressing topics such as stereotypes, technological studies and professions, or women and technology throughout history. This innovation potential and the social impact of the project have attracted broad media coverage.