Monday, 11 March 2024

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: not one day per year, but always

Versione stampabile

Gender equity again? Do we still need to raise awareness about this issue? National and international data are very clear: although much has been done to fight the gender gap, disparity is still evident, especially in the context of disciplines in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine). Therefore, it is –still- imperative to talk about it with the final aim to understand the reasons of this unbalance and to finally contrast it. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established the International Day for 'Women and Girls in Science', celebrated on 11 February each year. Nonetheless, it is necessary to raise awareness about gender issues not ONE day per year, but EVERY day of the year.

Therefore, we, the Equality and Diversity delegates of the University of Trento's STEMM Departments and Centres, decided to launch the following initiative: starting from March 11, and every 11th of the month until February 2025, a collage of photos will be posted on the social media channels of the Departments and Centres (Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn). They will highlight girls and women faces, each one engaged daily in different STEMM disciplines in our University. A unique initiative, transversal and shared by the 10 Departments and Centres STEMM, of UniTrento. The project intends to underline the female contribution in every field of science, to strongly attest that science must be open to all. An opportunity to catch up with young people, contrasting gender stereotypes, showing different models for professional training, fulfillment, and careers within the STEMM disciplines. The social campaign ties in with the one recently launched by the four research institutions in Trentino (UniTrento, MUSE, FEM, and FBK) on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, with the hashtag #perchénonio (why not me?). 

Gender equality is one of the priorities of the University of Trento: our university was one of the first Italian Universities to adopt the Gender Equality Plan (GEP) starting in January 2023, in line with the European Commission's commitment to enhance gender equality in research and innovation. The UniTrento office for Equity and Diversity, in collaboration with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, further explored these issues in the study 'Beyond educational segregation - gender rebalancing in the STEMM area' edited by Andrea Fleckinger', researcher at the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences, to map and characterize the various situations in different disciplinary fields and in the different Departments and Centres of our University, but also to better understand these differences to propose possible corrective options.

Within the University environment, gender gap first manifests in the initial enrolment in STEM courses, where the presence of females is about half compared to that of males (AA 2020/2021 21% (females) versus 42% (males)). However, not all of the observed gender-gaps are confined to University enrollment and ‘freshmen’. In some STEMM contexts - for instance in the biology disciplines - more females graduate compared to male (33.70% male graduates versus 66.30% female graduates). Yet, in this scenario, it is the gap in career progression that is problematic - only 20% of females are full professors. This highlights an important further opportunity to counteract the gender gap: to supporting and sustaining young female researchers, especially in the early stages of their careers.

The essence of the social media initiative is exactly this: raising awareness and stimulate girls' interest in various scientific and technological disciplines, encouraging them to pursue their passion with determination, energy and dedication.

The initiative is promoted by the Equality and Diversity policy delegates of all the University of Trento's STEMM Departments and Centres, with the support of the UniTrento Equality and Diversity Office and the valuable contribution of the communication staff of the University's STEMM Departments/Centres.

Daniela Ascenzi, Department of Physics;

Michela Dalprà, Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering;

Vincenzo D'Andrea, Department of Engineering and Information Science;

Luca Fambri, Department of Industrial Engineering;

Roberto Pignatelli, Department of Mathematics;

Marta Biagioli, Department of Cellular, Computational and Integrative Biology - CIBIO;

Valeria Anna Sovrano, Interdepartmental Mind/Brain Centre - CIMEC;

Roberto Rosà, Centre for Agriculture, Food, Environment - C3A;

Maria Micaela Coppola, Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences - DiPSCo - and Interdepartmental Centre for Medical Sciences - CISMed.