Encourage scientific and technological vocations among younger women

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In recent years there have been big advances in women taking up scientific and technological studies and joining the workforce in those areas. However the gender gap is most important in decision making positions, and there are fields such as Physics, Engineering, and Informatics where women are still under-represented. In order to help achieve access, and full and equal participation in science by women and girls , to promote career perspectives among women in science, and to recognize their achievements the General Assembly of the United Nations named February 11th every year as International Day of The Woman and the Girl in science.

The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) is committed to a policy of gender equality, the promotion of the role of women in science, and encouraging scientific and technological vocations among girls as well as boys. It participates in the network Tenerife Violet, and in the European network GENERA, which promotes equality in research centres in Physics.  For all of these reasons since 2017 the IAC has joined in the celebrations of February 11th with a range of activities and projects, at institutional level, as well as many of its women and men researchers and technologists on their own initiatives.

This year, the calendar of activities by which the IAC is participating in the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and International Women’s Day stretches from the end of January until March, and includes lectures and workshops, both live and virtual, in educational centres as well as initiatives aimed at the general public.

On line chats with women astronomers and technologists

February 11th will see the start of the project “Talk to Women in Astronomy” which will consist in the production of videoconferences with schools by women astrophysicists and engineers of the IAC who will explain their work, talk about their fields of research, and answer questions from the students and scientific and technological careers, and about the Universe, and the methods which are used to get to know it better.

The activity is aimed at Spanish educational centres, from infants until High School and Professional Training, and there will be 15 videoconferences on Fabruary 11th from 8.30 to 18:00 (Canary time). The activity will continue during the school year on dates agreed between the lecturers and the centres who ask for them. The astrophyicists and engineers who are participating in this activity are Patricia Chinchilla, Nayra Rodríguez Eugenio, Sandra Benítez Herrera, Cristina Martínez Lombilla, Karla Z. Arellano Córdova, Arianna Di Cintio, Adriana de Lorenzo-Cáceres Rodríguez, Patricia Fernández Izquierdo, Paz Alonso Arias, Icíar Montilla, Montserrat Armas Padilla y Alicia López Oramas.

Centres who want a videoconference can ask for it via the following link: inscription form.

Other activities for educational centres

The IAC also participates live in talks, workshops, astronomical observations and debates which will take place in a number of educational centres in the islands. Some of these activities are being managed through the platform 11febrero.org which acts as a link between schools throughout Spain, and by women scientists who live close enough to travel to the centres and interact with the students.

In addition the women astrophysicists at the AC Antonia M. Varela, Begoña García, Pilar Montañés, Nayra Rodríguez and Natalia Arteaga are participating in the project “Canary Women Scientists” organized by the Canary Observatory of Temisas Foundation in collaboration with the Association of Researchers of Las Palmas (INVEPAO) and the Department of Education and Universities of the Government of the Canaries, via its STEAM area. This initiative consists of an exhibition of panels about Canary women who are working in different fields of science, which will circulate through those educational centres which are enrolled in the project, accompanied by a lecture from one of the participants.

Activities open to the public

February 8th will see the start of the III Cycle “Women in Science” organized by the Canary Observatory of Temisas Foundation, INVEPA, and Macbiodi. During a month women researchers who are working in the islands will participate in a series of lectures in several municipalities in Tenerife and Gran Canary. ON behalf of the IAC there will be participation by Cristina Ramos, Olga Zamora, Adriana de Lonenzo-Caceres Rodríguez, Paz Alonso Arias, Sandra Benitez Herrera, and Iciar Montilla.

For the second year in a row there will also be the activity “Chat with a woman astronomer” promoted by the Commission on Women in Astronomy of the Spanish Astronomical Society (SEA) and organized by Adriana de Lorenzo-Cáceres, a woman researcher at the IAC. This online activity will take place on February 7th between 9:00 and 21:00 Canary time (10:00 and 22:00 Peninsular time). During the whole day 62 professional women astrophysicists will chat with the public who connect, about their research and about their experiences as women working in Science. Among them will be the IAC astrophysicists Paz Alonso, Karla Z. Arellano, Carme Gallart, Alicia López Oramas, Cristina Martínez, Francesca Pinna, Antonia M. Varela y Adriana de Lorenzo-Cáceres Rodríguez.

Exactly on February 11th there will be published a new chapter in the audiovisual seriesWomen who broke a glass ceeling while looking at the sky”. Until now 16 women and astrophysicists and engineers from the IAC have participated in this IAC project, in collaboration with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), whose objective is to promote scientific vocations among younger women as well as showing the work carried out in this research centre.

The play “The Lost Honour of Henrietta Leavitt” (complete and with selected scenes included as versions in sign language) will also be uploaded to the video channels of the IAC, within the framework of the project between the IAC and FECYT “The return of Henrietta Leavitt. From school to a research career via the theatre”.

All these activities are part of the "IAU100 Women and Girls in Astronomy" project, one of the highlights of the International Astronomical Union's 100th anniversary celebrations.

Interesting links:

“Habla con ellas: mujeres en Astronomía”: www.iac.es/hablaconellas

“Chatea con una astrónoma”: www.sea-astronomia.es

Plataforma 11 de febrero: 11defebrero.org

Mujeres Científicas Canarias: web