Association of Women Researchers and Technologists
Aragón, Spain, 2016, April 28
The "Association of Women Researchers and Technologists" from Aragón (North of Spain) organized this year the program "A Female Engineer in every School". More than 50 women engineers from University of Zaragoza, most of the from the CSIC and private sector, visited primary schools to lead hands-on workshops with young students, both boys and girls, to show them how engineers work. Through more than forty sessions, more than 700 students were reached in Aragón (Zaragoza capital city and also smaller rural towns), in a 50% girl attendance basis. The workshops ranged from computing, design, mechatronic and robotics to material science and biotechnology, depending on the age of the students, with a proactive attitude of self-efficiency and promoting team-work to achieve results.
We are convinced that role-model technologist women represent a good way to promote the interest of girls into STEM professions. They were involved in manipulating bits, pixels, tools, computers, electricity, heat, numbers, structures and materials… guided by women. All the groups were highly satisfied with the experience, but we detected that girls were more enthusiastic and stimulated than their male peers. We suspect that girls were not as used as boys to challenging activities were self-confidence in construction was developed.
The engagement with the teachers was another important factor for us: the responsibility of education in equal opportunities between girls and boys is in their hands. Sometimes teachers, mostly women, have difficulties in transmitting the importance and applicability of mathematics and physics in real life, and how future jobs in STEM are important for the community. Women role-models were of great support to their objectives, and the feedback we obtained from teachers was a success.