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EU campaign to make science more of ‘a girl thing’
  1. European Commission

Abstract

The European Commission has launched a campaign to get more girls interested in science and encourage more women to choose research as a career

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WOMEN make up more than half the EU's student population and 45 per cent of all PhD students, but they account for only one-third of career researchers. To encourage more girls to choose science as a career, the EC has launched a three-year campaign, ‘Women in Research and Innovation’, which aims initially to get teenage girls interested in studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects). Its focus will then be widened to female students more generally, encouraging them to consider research careers.

The EU's Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said at the launch on June 21: ‘Europe needs more female scientists and researchers. We need them to solve problems like climate change, energy and public health. This campaign will show women and girls that science does not just mean old men in white coats. Science offers fantastic career opportunities and the chance to make a real difference to our society and our future. The under-representation of women in a sector so vital to our economy does not make sense at a time when Europe is fighting for more growth and jobs. We hope that by providing positive role models and by explaining the options we can persuade more young women to stick with science.

‘Young people typically make career-critical decisions between the ages of 13 and 17. At this point in their education they orientate towards or away from scientific subjects. That's why the first part of the campaign will address teenage girls in secondary education with the slogan “Science: it's a girl thing”. A second phase will aim at encouraging female students to pursue scientific careers.’

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Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn added that the campaign aimed to challenge stereotypes of science and show young girls and women that science was fun and could provide great opportunities. ‘It will challenge outdated views of science careers and show how contemporary research practices are connected with societal needs,’ she said. ‘Research and innovation are the key to finding concrete solutions to common challenges, such as food and energy security, the environment and climate change, or better healthcare.’ As part of the campaign, established female scientists will act as role models in the media and at dedicated events and workshops.'

EU-wide initiative

The campaign will cover all 27 European Union member states over the years 2012/13. In 2012, events will be organised in six countries – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland.

The campaign comes at a time when the European Commission has proposed Horizon 2020, a programme that would increase EU-level support for research and innovation to €80 billion for the period 2014-2020, from €55 billion in the current seven-year budget.

Information

▪Campaign website: http://ec.europa.eu/science-girl-thing/

▪Facebook page: www.facebook.com/sciencegirlthing

Bursaries to attend the British Science Festival

THE RCVS Charitable Trust is offering bursaries for two ‘creative and energetic’ UK-based veterinary students to attend the British Science Festival in Aberdeen from September 4 to 9, 2012. The students will be required to use their observations and experiences to help the Trust develop future outreach activities to inform and inspire public audiences about aspects of veterinary clinical practice and research, and will have all their expenses paid by the Trust.

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Applicants should write to the RCVS Charitable Trust to say how they would go about meeting this challenge, ideally giving examples that demonstrate their innovative abilities. The deadline for entries is July 9, after which they will be considered by a competition panel that will decide the winners. Entrants must be able to commit to attending the entire Festival and to deliver a feedback presentation to the competition panel on October 31. They should also be willing and able to compile a video diary or blog to feedback their experiences.

More information is available at http://trust.rcvs.org.uk/home/. The successful applicants will be announced at the end of July.

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