Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. SKILLBILL acknowledges the women who are making great strides in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Despite the gender gap in STEM fields, there are many inspiring women making incredible contributions. From medical researchers to computer scientists, these women are changing the landscape of STEM for the better.
To celebrate the day, SKILLBILL discusses with Sofia, Medea and Lucia, three brilliant young women working in the STEM sector.
SKILLBILL: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Sofia: My name is Sofia. I have a degree in environmental engineering, but even before that I was passionate about renewable energy. I had a short experience in international cooperation in Central America and then I got to know AzzeroCO2. Today I am the coordinator of the area that identifies, designs and implements solutions for the energy improvement of buildings or processes, including through renewable energies.
Medea: My name is Medea, I was born and raised in Italy, attended classical high school and later graduated in power engineering. I work as an engineer in the field of energy efficiency and I follow projects to renovate public buildings, especially to promote the use of renewable energies.
Lucia: I’ am Lucia, 37 years old and have always been interested in solving mathematical and logical problems, as well as painting and music. While I was still in high school, I decided to go to STEM and then did my degree in Environmental Engineering. I currently work as a designer of energy efficiency systems.
SKILLBILL: One of the main assets of the SKILLBILL project is the involvement of women in STEM. Can you tell us about your experience as a woman working in this sector STEM?
Sofia: “Being addressed as “Madame” when your colleague is called “Engineer“, dealing with much older men who feel entitled to lecture you about your work, receiving surprising “compliments” about your proven competence or, even worse, compliments about your physical appearance. These are just a few examples of prejudices that happen every day.”
Medea: “I think it depends a lot on the workplace. Mine is inclusive and I am lucky with that. The construction industry is definitely male-dominated, so as a young woman outside my workplace, I have often received inappropriate comments or been the victim of prejudice.”
Lucia: “I do not think I have ever faced any particular obstacles, but it does happen that people outside my workplace (despite their gender) assume that I am his secretary when, for example, I am working with a male engineering colleague who has the same job. Or they even assume that I have children and am therefore torn between work and family, as if the responsibility for the family lies exclusively with the woman. Unfortunately, these prejudices and stereotypes are still largely part of the Italian cultural background.
SKILLBILL: What can be done to increase women’s participation in STEM and reduce the gender gap? Do you have a suggestion you can give to SKILLBILL?
Sofia: “We should promote a cultural change through comprehensive education by talking about this issue, which is still not recognized as a real problem today. We should also set positive examples in our daily lives, not be intimidated by unpleasant incidents, continue to contribute our expertise and demand the professional respect we deserve.”
Medea: “It is important to start with education and eliminate stereotypes about what is and is not girly. Girls should have concrete examples of working women in STEM fields to inspire them for their future and studies. Social networks can be helpful in this.”
Lucia: “Education certainly plays a fundamental role. It is important that the women and men of future generations grow up with different cultural and social models and distance themselves from the dynamics that have led to the gender gap. I think we are already moving in this direction, but we still have a long way to go.”
There is still much to do, in some EU countries more than in others. Thank you to all who are helping to raise awareness to reduce the gender gap in STEM/RES sector!!
“Imagine a gender equitable world. A world free of prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’ is diverse, equal and inclusive. A world where differences are valued and celebrated. Together we can advance women’s equality. Together we can all #EmbraceEquity.”