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Empower Girls to Embrace their Digital and Entrepreneurial Potential

Girls can STEM!

GEM (2020-2022) is a European Union co-funded pilot project. The project seeks to increase girls’ interest in STEM and ICT subjects, studies and careers. The project consists of two parts:

  • exciting and cost-free summer camps with out-of-school STEM activities for girls aged 12-18
  • a wide reaching network of schools, higher education institutions, companies and policy makers, to exchange best-practices to support girls in STEM education, studies and careers.
Virtual City Planning and Modelling

To find out more about the project you can visit the other sections of this website or subscribe to our newsletter to receive news concerning GEM comfortably into your mailbox.

WHY do we need this project?

Around half of Europe’s population is female, yet only 15% work in tech sectors and even less, 2,4% in ICT related fields. Only around 20% of the females are entrepreneurs. The untapped source of female technology, innovation and entrepreneurial potential leaves Europe with a huge and growing gender and skills gap in these sectors. Education certainly is the most important lever to enable and encourage girls to pursue studies and careers linked to STEM, particularly information and communication technology (ICT), and entrepreneurship.

WHAT are the activities of the project?

Higher education institutions from 10 European countries will organize summer camps for girls, piloting various learning activities, which specifically support the development of a diverse range of STEM related and personal skills. Skills that enable girls to contribute to Europe’s digital innovation processes. We induce encouragement through raising the girls’ interest and confidence. Therefore, we put a particular focus on challenging stereotypes, highlighting inspirational role models and offering participating girls a possibility to enjoy themselves in the context of STEM and enjoy STEM.

Another side of the coin is to enable society to encourage and support girls in pursuing STEM and ICT carriers. Therefore, a long-term European network connecting actors from various STEM education, digital and entrepreneurial spheres will be established. Members of the network will run diverse awareness-raising activities among society to address impending issues, to demonstrate the need and ways to support girls and to inform girls about their options.

Project Consortium

Our consortium consists of 10 higher education institutions. Together with collaboration partners from business, policy and education providers in each country, the consortium is drawing from an unbeatable mixture of STEM education expertise, STEM/ICT subject knowledge and transnational project experience.

The members are:

  • University of Education Freiburg, Germany
  • University of Nicosia, Cyprus
  • Charles University, Czech Republic
  • University of Jaen, Spain
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
  • Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • University of Malta, Malta
  • Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Jönköping University, Sweden
  • Constantine the Philosopher University, Slovakia

What project members say about their participation in GEM:

“I am part of this project because I want no girl to think: "I can't because I'm a girl".”

Dr. Josette Farrugia, Senior Lecturer in Science EducationUniversity of Malta, Malta

“I am a part of this project because I am inspired by the stories of women scientists.”

Dr. Maria EvagorouUniversity of Nicosia, Cyprus

“I am a part of this project because it is very rewarding to be inspired by the approach to gender issues in universities and project partner countries. I am also very enriched by communication with representatives of institutions that are primarily involved in the education and development of girls and women in IT and STEM in Slovakia.”

Dr. Sona CeretkovaConstantine the Philosopher University (CPU) in Nitra, Slovakia

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue a career in STEM/ICT because I think the STEM and ICT teams profit from diversity.”

Dr. Janka MedovaConstantine the Philosopher University (CPU) in Nitra, Slovakia

“I am a part of this project because I believe that there is no space for any gender gap in STEM/ICT.”

Stephen Bezzina, Education OfficerMinistry for Education and Employment, Malta

“If we keep underrepresenting girls in STEM/ICT fields, we will loose a lots of capacity in our societies and many young girls would not reach their potential.”

Dr. Jesper Boesen, Associate Professor in Mathematics EducationJönköping University, Sweden

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue careers in STEM/ICT because girls still increasingly choose professions outside the STEM field and are not confident about careers in STEM. We need to get rid of clichés and outdated stereotypes and let girls know that they can achieve anything in STEM.”

Laura WanckelInternational Centre for STEM Education, Germany

“We need strong girl representation in STEM/ICT fields as their presence will enable a wider spectrum of participants, who can contribute to a diversification of perspectives.”

Dr. Charles Bonello, Senior LecturerUniversity of Malta, Malta

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue a career in STEM/ICT because they can bring unconventional insights to the process of problem-solving in STEM/ICT.”

Dr. Lubomira ValovicovaConstantine the Philosopher University (CPU) in Nitra, Slovakia

“I am a part of this project because I can promote computer science education to girls.”

Dr. Valentina Dagienė, Professor of InformaticsVilnius University, Lithuania

“If we keep underrepresenting girls in STEM/ICT, the field of science will never show its full potential as a tool to solve global challenges of societies.”

María Martín PeciñaUniversity of Jaén, Spain

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue a career in STEM/ICT, because this will help in breaking stereotypes about who can be involved in STEM professions.”

Giorgos Psycharis, Lecturer in Mathematics EducationThe National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

“I am part of the project because it encourages me to increase young girl's interest in chemical disciplines and inspire them to continue their studies.”

Stepanka Kuckova, LecturerCharles University and University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, Czech Republic

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue a career in STEM / ICT, because they can discover and create incredible things that will surprise them, strengthen their confidence and help them reach career heights.”

Asta MeškauskienėVilnius University, Lithuania

“If we keep underrepresenting girls in STEM/ICT fields, the digital gender gap will increase and the pieces of the glass ceiling effect -nurtured by cultural gender stereotypes - will remain.”

Dr. Efi Nisiforou, LecturerUniversity of Nicosia, Cyprus

“I am a part of this project because I aim to inspire girls’ interest in meeting female scientists, experiencing their workplace, and making STEM fields attractive.”

Agni StylianouUniversity of Nicosia, Cyprus

“I am a part of this project because I work for science and in love with science, and I am pretty convinced of the capacity of women to make the most of STEM to improve people’s lives.”

Marta Romero Ariza, Associate Professor in Science EducationUniversity of Jaén, Spain

“If we keep underrepresenting girls in STEM/ICT fields, we will lose much creativity and good proposals for supporting our life and our environment.”

Dr. Martin Bílek, Professor in Chemistry EducationCharles University in Prague, Czech Republic

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue a career in STEM/ICT, because their point of view enriches society, which benefits from science done by women.”

Dr. Ana María Abril Gallego, Directora del Departamento de Didáctica de las CienciasUniversity of Jaén, Spain

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue a career in STEM/ICT, because they are creative and have ingenious personalities.”

Aušra KynienėVilnius University, Lithuania

“I am part of this project because I want to take an active role in creating a society, where the future career choice is not gender-dominated since childhood. Every person should be enabled to become what he or she really wants to become.”

Dita Kreuz, Project Manager GEMInternational Centre for STEM Education, Germany

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue a career in STEM/ICT because they can do it as well as boys and can bring a new perspective.”

Dr. Katerina ChroustovaCharles University, Czechia

“If we keep underrepresenting girls in STEM/ICT fields, we sustain the prejudices and the existing inequality in the educational, societal and STEM work communities.”

Vasiliki SpiliotopoulouNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

“If we keep underrepresenting girls in STEM/ICT fields, we will lose much creativity and good proposals for supporting our life and our environment.”

Zacharoula SmyrnaiouNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

“If we keep underrepresenting girls in STEM/ICT fields or any other field, we are delaying progress, as we deprive them of the right of participation.”

Elisavet PitriUniversity of Nicosia, Cyprus

“It is important to inspire girls to pursue a career in STEM/ICT, because this will increase their confidence and they will change existing beliefs that men are better than women in STEM areas.”

Despina PotariNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

“If we keep underrepresenting girls in STEM/ICT fields, humanity lacks fruitful perspectives and overlooks important aspects of human rights.”

Kostas StouraitisNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Key Data

Name: Empower Girls to Embrace their Digital and Entrepreneurial Potential (GEM)

Type of Action/Programme: Pilot Project & Preparation Action Grant

Name of the call: Girls4STEM in Europe

Co-Funding: 346 450 €uro, European Commission

Coordinator: International Centre for STEM Education (ICSE), http://icse.eu/

Project duration: 2020 – 2021

The heart of GEM

As part of the GEM Project, we organized a number of summer schools for girls age 12-18 over the course of 2020-2022.

Participants of our summer camps engaged in a lot of exciting out-of-school STEM activities. They spent an inspiring time with other girls discovering what science, maths, engineering and technology (STEM) can offer them because STEM is part of most solutions to a healthy environment, a lively society and a thriving youth.

Based on research and experiences from the summer schools that were organized, the following five principles are important for a successful summer school.

It is very beneficial to use contexts that are relevant for society, are authentic and show how STEM skills can be used to help others. Research and our experience show that females are more likely to choose STEM if it enables to make a positive difference in the world, for example, by showing applications of STEM in medicine, waste reduction or climate change. It can be a good idea to advertise a STEM activity for girls not by emphasizing a subject, for example “learn how to code” but naming the real-life benefit of it “coding for promoting the virtual security of children”. Real life issues are also a promising context to examine issues from multiple perspectives and involve skepticism when discussing potentially biased information.

It is important for a good learning success to work with inquiry-based activities during which girls can do science, explore and be creative in contexts where science makes a societal difference or relates to social scientific issue. It proved to be great practice to include a final session for exchanging findings or present a self-developed product at the end of the summer school. This means that during the summer school girls were often designing and developing a product on their own in small groups. Demonstrating high level of curiosity they searched solutions to problems in playful way, while being accompanied by a mentor.

As research shows and our experiences confirm, it is important to involve female role models coming from professional STEM sectors. Currently, when asked, only a small percentage of girls can name a female STEM scientist or professional they look up to. It is however of big importance to see female role models to be able to identify oneself with STEM experts and eventually choose a profession in this field.  Girls need to receive the message that women can work in STEM careers and be successful and fulfilled in their work life while still having a personal life, and they need to receive this message repeatedly. While piloting summer schools, female mentors were involved in various ways: we engaged professional yet approachable female lecturers and mentors to talk about their experiences and lead the sessions, as there is a positive and significant association between the proportion of female teachers in a high school and the likelihood that a female student will choose a STEM-related major (Stearns et al., 2016). We also involved young female mentors with a STEM-related background as adult group leaders and working phase leaders. In this way a mentor would follow a group of students for the duration of the summer camp.

Female role models can be involved in demonstrating the entrepreneurial aspect of STEM. Additionally, opportunities though local and national businesses should be showed to discover the different STEM job options in the local surroundings. It is of an additional value, if some tasks in individual work phases are involving entrepreneurial goals, such as helping the girls to improve their ability for opportunity recognition, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills, being comfortable with risks and promoting creativity and innovation.

It is cruical to develop a safe learning environment where it is made explicit, that making mistakes is ok. The participants should enjoy STEM in an inclusive and supportive educational environment, working jointly on a variety of STEM projects, experiencing being a part of a STEM community. Girls require a special culture of feedback, e.g. in case of ‘failure’ it should be referred to a lack of effort instead of competence, and the activities should be designed in such a way that they can experience success and have it recognized. Also, gender-neutral environment helps making progress and helps the girls to step out of their comfort zone and try STEM out.

Past Summer Schools

Here are some impressions from our GEM summer schools:

Presentation-of-mini-STEM-projects

Do you want to empower girls to tap their full STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) potential?

Are you looking for options to guide their ways into a STEM world full of wonder and success?

Then join our GEMnet, a network of STEM teachers, STEM teacher trainers, policy-makers, opinion-leaders, influencers, platform representatives, NGOs and companies which work together to pave the way for a gender-balanced STEM world.

1h4 Girls in STEM – A series of fee-free online events by GEMnet – Part IV

Register for GEMnet’s 1-hour-crash-workshop on February 28, 2023, 12 a.m. CET; online

Diversity sensitive support for vocational orientation of young women

Around half of Europe’s population is female, but only 15% work in tech sectors (2,4% in ICT related fields) and only around 20% are entrepreneurs. The untapped source of female technology, innovation and entrepreneurial potential leaves Europe with a huge and growing gender and skills gap in these sectors. Education certainly is the most important lever to enable and encourage girls to pursue studies and careers linked to STEM, particularly ICT, and entrepreneurship.

The workshop will offer an opportunity to reflect on the successful ideas and strategies for vocational orientation for young women with the focus on their migration background.

We will discuss and work on different strategies which are offered but also wished by the young women when it comes to their career aspiration. The workshop will be based on an online tool which helps young women to reflect on their own self-concept and abilities for career in natural sciences.

Finally, coaching strategies for teachers (including parents as well), educators from in-formal/non-formal education offers as well as a card game for parents and their daughters will be presented.

This time’s one hour for girls in STEM is led by Prof. Dr. Silvija Markic.

Prof. Dr. Silvija Markic is a professor for chemistry education at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany after a professorship at the Ludwigsburg University of Education. She finished her teacher training program for grammar school teacher of chemistry and mathematics and was working as a senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Bremen (Germany) until March 2017.

Her research interests include science teachers` beliefs and pedagogical content knowledge, linguistic heterogeneity and cultural diversity in chemistry and science education, cooperative learning and alternative teaching methods as well as digitalization of teaching and learning at the tertiary level. Her recent project are “Diversity in Science toward Social Inclusion – Non-formal Education in Science for Students` Diversity” (www.dissi.org) and “Educating Science Teachers for All” (www.esta-project.eu)

 

 


Become a member of the GEM Network

Join the GEM Network

Become a member of our network for female and female-identifying empowerment in STEM education

Support us in our two main fields of action:

  • collecting and sharing your best-practice strategies to empower girls in STEM & ICT
  • raising awareness about the need to support girls along their STEM pathways throughout life

Please fill in your details below.

By joining our mailing, you will be able to stay in touch with other GEM Network members and you will stay informed about current news. The data you enter here will stay anonymous to other members and it will not be passed on to third parties. You can unsubscribe from the mailing list at any time or revoke your consent at any time by sending an e-mail to icse(at)ph-freiburg.de . By sending the data you have entered, you consent to data processing and confirm our privacy policy.

GEM Network – Whats happening?

GEM Network Timeline

1h4 Girls in STEM - A series of GEM Network online events - Part III

This session provides insights on experiences from summer schools for girls that were organized on common principles across Europe. These summer schools offered the participants the opportunity to enjoy STEM in an inclusive and supportive educational environment, working jointly on a variety of STEM projects.

You can download pdf here.

 

28 November 2022

1h4 Girls in STEM - A series of GEM Network online events - Part II

This time’s workshop is on gender-sensitive didactics in STEM education – scientific findings and practice strategies.

Download workshop pdf here.

30 June 2022

1h4 Girls in STEM - A series of GEM Network online events - Part I

During this online meeting we will be introduced into our own identities and perceptions which lead to stereotypes in STEM. You will be stunned when questioning your own perceptions and how this affects your teaching!

Download workshop pdf here.

 

 

April 2022

GEM Network Session

During this online event participants discussed best practices in Europe regarding women in STEM and digital studies and careers, and how out-of-school STEM activties become a success. If you are interested in the results from the event, contact othe session leader Elena Köck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 March 2022

GEM Network Kick off Meeting

The first GEM Network Meeting covered the intention and measures of the GEM project, some background knowledge around the current situation of gender (in-)equality in ICT and STEM, the Horizon Europe attempt to change it and the societal environment and how it carves the path for professional careers of girls through socialization (usually towards traditionally female coined careers). Finally, the participants talked about positive examples of practices that do work in inspiring girls AND realistically supporting them on their way towards ICT/STEM careers.

1 Girl Empowerment in Slovakia

2 Where science meets family and family empowers science

3 Understanding Gender Equality

4 Welcome. GEM Network and the GEM Project

 

 

 

 

 

November 2021

GEMnet Roadmap to support girls in STEM studies and careers

Girls working on labatory group work

The GEMnet Roadmap shows our measures to support girls in STEM studies and careers.

There are many initiatives to support girls along their STEM journeys. GEMnet sees itself as complementary to such initiatives and works in three main fields of action:

consolidation: members connect to each other and to other actors across Europe who have an interest in a world without gender gaps in STEM

Presentation-of-mini-STEM-projects

peer-learning: all members share their knowledge about ongoing gender and skills gaps in STEM/digital sectors and share best practice strategies to overcome existing challenges


communication and dissemination: raise societal awareness about the need to create a world without gender gaps in STEM and how toachieve it; as well as share peer-learning content and project results

Do not wait to get in contact with our network coordinator Elena Köck. Together we can figure out in which ways you can support girls in STEM education, for more girls in STEM studies and careers.

Elena Köck ICSE PH Freiburg

Each member can post our GEMnet emblem via their media channels to let society know that they stand for equal opportunities for all genders in STEM!

This project is co-funded by the European Union under grant no. LC-01380173. The European Union/European Commission is neither responsible for the content nor liable for any losses or damage resulting of the use of these resources.

Do you have any questions?

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