Women astronomers and engineers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), from the Canary Observatories, and from other collaborating institutions show their work and answer students’ questions in videoconferences with educational centres throughout Spain.
Physics and Engineering are fields which are still see by society as “male professions”, and in which women continue to be under-represented. The challenge of awaking interest in these subjects among students, and especially among girls, means facing up to the idea that they are perceived as difficult and with few attractive professional positions, as well as combating the stereotype that these professions are not for women.
In 2017, after participating in a number of activities for the local public in the newly proclaimed International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a group of volunteers from the IAC began to meet to think about, and put into practice other actions with the aim of changing the gender stereotypes in these areas, to publicize the work done by women who are working in them, and to offer students new professional models. This was how the “Talk to them: Women in Astronomy” initiative was started.
The project gives educational centres in Spain the possibility to have a videoconference with one of its 26 participants, women astrophysicists and engineers from the IAC and collaborating institutions. In these connections the participant explains her work, talks about her field of research, and answers questions from the students about careers in science and technology, about the Universe, or about the methods used to get to know it better.
The initiative was started in 2019 as one of the outreach activities supported by the Severo Ochoa Programme of the IAC and in the two previous editions over 2000 students have taken part, from primary education to high school, from eleven of the Spanish Autonomous Regional Communities. The new edition starts today, February 3rd, 2021, and videoconferences can be requested, to take place until the end of the present school year.
“We have chosen the videoconference format because it gives a contemporary and personal view of the women who are working in Science and Technology, as well as reaching schools which are very far from our research centres, very speedily and with virtually no cost, especially environmental cost. This is particularly valuable for schools far from research centres or universities” explains the coodinator of the project, Nayra Rodríguez Eugenio, doctor in astrophysics and outreach specialist in the Outreach and Press Unit (UC3) at the IAC. “This format, and the support from the informatics services of the IAC, allowed us, moreover, to continue with the activities during the stoppage of face-to-face classes as a consequence of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19” she adds.
The evaluations of the videoconferences, carried out by the schools after the activity, show very positive results, both an increase of interest in science and technology among the students, as well as a change of gender stereotypes in these areas.
Participants of the 2021 edition: Alba Fernández-Barral (CTAO), Alicia López Oramas (IAC), Ana Esteban Gutiérrez (IAC), Arianna di Cintio (IAC / ULL), Beatriz Mingo (The Open University), Carmen P. Padilla-Torres (FGG / IAC), Estrella Zatón (IAC), Evanthia Hatziminaoglou (ESO), Francesca Pinna (MPIA), Gloria Andreuzzi (Telescopio Nazionale Galileo), Icíar Montilla (IAC), Jenny Carter (University of Leicester), Josefa Becerra González (IAC / ULL), Julia de León Cruz (IAC), Lucía González Cuesta (IAC), María Jesús Arévalo Morales (IAC / ULL), Montserrat Armas Padilla (IAC), Nataly Ospina (Università degli Studi di Padova e INFN Padova), Nayra Rodríguez Eugenio (IAC), Núria Casasayas Barris (Leiden Observatory / IAC), Patricia Chinchilla Gallego (IAC / Univ. Liège), Paula Izquierdo Sánchez (IAC), Sandra Benítez Herrera (IAC), Sara González Pérez (ULL / IACTec), Núria Salvador Rusiñol (IAC), Virginia Cúneo (IAC).
More information about the project: Talk to Them: Women in Astronomy
Request for videoconferences (maximum two per school): Form
Contact: Nayra Rodríguez Eugenio (nre [at] iac.es)
What is it? It is an IAC initiative that aims to make visible the work of women in Astronomy-Astrophysics, while offering girls inspiring models to promote their scientific and technological vocations. It consists of videoconferences with educational centres by women astrophysicists and engineers who work at the IAC and at other institutions
The CTA is an initiative which is planning the construction of a new generation of Cherenkov Telescopes to study the universe in very high energy gamma-rays. Gamma-rays carry information about the most violent and extreme events in the universe.
Again this year the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) is showing its commitment to gender equality by organizing a large number of activities around February 11th, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The main aim of this day, which was declares by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015 is: ‘to recognize the important role that women and girls play in science and technology’ In recent years the number of women in science and technology carrees has increased significnatly. In 2017 there were six countries with more women scientists and engineers than men
Because of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and International Women’s Day, women scientists and engineers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias will participate, throughout February and March, in a number of activities to show the role of women in science and to arouse interest in science in young girls.