Sixth edition of "Talk to Them: Women in Astronomy" and other initiatives to celebrate the Day of Women and Girls in Science

Poster for the 2024 edition of "Habla con Ellas: Mujeres en Astronomía". Credit: Inés Bonet (IAC)
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The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) is joining in the celebrations for 11 February by taking part in more than a dozen actions aimed at promoting scientific and technological vocations among girls and young women and making the role of women in the development of science more visible.

The report "Radiography of the gender gap in STEAM education" published in 2022 by the Equality Unit of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training shows that in some key disciplines for the future and, in particular, those related to Astronomy and Astrophysics, progress is not being made towards a more equitable professional representation, but that we are losing female talent. To give some figures, between 2002 and 2020, the percentage of female students enrolled in Spanish public universities fell by more than 9 points in Physics (from 36% to 26.7%) and the drop was more than 18 points in Mathematics (from 54.5% to 36.3%) and Computer Engineering (from 31.2% to 12.7%). To get more girls interested in these disciplines, the stereotypes associated with these professions and studies need to be broken down.

Since 2017, the IAC has joined the celebrations of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science with education and public awareness activities that seek to create new female references in Science and Technology, as well as to inspire new generations, especially girls, to follow in their footsteps.

In 2024, the IAC continues to participate in many of the projects and activities developed in previous years, especially those aimed at children and young people.

Talk to Them: Women in Astronomy 2024

The sixth edition of this project will feature 28 astrophysicists, engineers and technologists from the IAC, the Canary Islands Observatories and other collaborating institutions who will hold videoconferences with Spanish schools. In them, the speakers will explain their work, talk about their field of research and answer students' questions about scientific and technological careers, the Universe and the methods used to learn more about it. This initiative, organised and coordinated by the IAC's Outreach and Communication Unit, is open to all levels of pre-university education, from Kindergarden to Secondary Education and Vocational Training, and runs from February to June.

In the five editions carried out so far, a total of 52 collaborators from the IAC and 12 other institutions have taken part, carrying out 216 activities with a reach of more than 8,600 students from practically all regions of Spain. The surveys answered by participating students and teachers show very positive evaluations of the activities and an increase in the students' interest in scientific and technological areas after the activity.

Collaborations with other initiatives

A large number of women researchers and engineers at the IAC also participate in various activities organised by other institutions. This is the case of the Chat with an Astronomer initiative, organised by the Women and Astronomy Commission of the Spanish Astronomical Society, which will take place on 15 February. From 10:00 to 22:00, those interested will be able to connect to an online chat with a professional astrophysicist.

Another action aimed at schoolchildren with the participation of the IAC is the event "Science and Technology for Women - Women who change the world", organised by the Science and Technology Park of Tenerife (PCTT), which will be held on 9 February in the Multipurpose Hall of the IACTEC building.

The IAC will also participate in the debate "Today visible, tomorrow inspiring", a meeting with a specialised audience on the presence of women in the scientific, technological and innovative ecosystem in the Canary Islands. This event, organised by the Regional Ministry of Universities, Science, Innovation and Culture of the Government of the Canary Islands, will be held on 23 February at the Elder Museum of Science and Technology (Gran Canaria).

In addition, during the months of February and March, talks and workshops will be given in person at numerous schools in the Canary Islands, organised as part of their activities on the occasion of 11F or through the 11 February Platform. We also collaborate with audiovisual and radio projects at schools, giving interviews or participating in outreach videos.

The Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) will focus on the youngest children on La Palma, organising talks and visits to the telescope for groups of primary school children on the island.

Further information:

IAC and IACTEC staff involved in the above activities: Adriana de Lorenzo-Cáceres Rodríguez, Alejandra Goded Merino, Alessandra Ambrifi, Ana Escorza, Anelise Audibert, Anna Ferre Mateu, Antonia M. Varela, Arianna di Cintio, Auxiliadora Padrón Brito, Badiaa Ait Ahmed, Carme Gallart, Cristina Ramos Almeida, Emma Esparza Borges, Gaia Lacedelli, Icíar Montilla, Irene Puerto Giménez, Josefa Becerra González, Mary Barreto Cabrera, Montserrat Armas Padilla, Nayra Rodríguez Eugenio and Pilar Montañes Rodríguez.

Collaborators: Ángela Hernández Delgado (Australian National University), Cecilia Fariña (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes), Evanthia Hatziminaoglou (European Southern Observatory), Gloria Andreuzzi (TNG-INAF), Iballa B. Cabello García (ULL), Judith Santos Torres (Isaac Newton Group), Nataly Ospina (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) and Nieves Castro (GTC).

List of activities:

Contact: Nayra Rodríguez Eugenio (IAC Outreach and Communication Unit)

Related projects
Poster of the activity "Habla con ellas: Mujeres en Astronomía"
Talk to Them: Women in Astronomy
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
Rodríguez Eugenio
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