Female empowerment in disciplines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Support greater access for women and girls to science and contribute to the spread of a culture based on gender equality were the themes at the heart of "Mind The STEM Gap", an international conference promoted by Bracco Foundation with The Aspen Institute e Italy Pavilion.

The conference took place on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Women-and-STEM - Expo Dubai

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The General Assembly of the United Nations, the main and most representative institutional body of the United Nations, on 22 December 2015 established an annual International Day to recognize the fundamental role that women and girls play in science and technology, through Resolution A / RES / 70/212.

February 11th UNESCO e UN-Women, in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners, celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It is an opportunity to promote full and equal access and participation in science for women and girls. 

Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO. Facing some of the biggest challenges of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, from improving health to fighting climate change, will depend on using all the talents. This means that more women have to work in these fields. 

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science reminds that women and girls play a vital role in the science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science at Expo 2020 Dubai

This year's main event took place in Expo 2020 Dubai.

Co-organized by Expo 2020 Dubai, by UNESCO, byUnited Nations Office for Space Affairs and from Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates, the event showcased the work and achievements of female scientists who have successfully contributed to innovation and progress in science and technology.

Opportunity District Expo 2020 Dubai

For the International Day of Women and Girls in Science Expo Dubai was held a hybrid session in the presence of international scientists from all over the world. He participated in the round table Simonetta Di Pippo, Italian astrophysics and current director ofUnited Nations Office for Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

L'Oréal and UNESCO awarded 14 women from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for their extraordinary discoveries in STEM at the program's MENA Awards ceremony For Women in Science, which took place at Expo 2020 Dubai earlier this week.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science was also a way to encourage future generations to pursue careers in these fields.

Among the various activities of Expo 2020 Dubai aimed at bringing future generations closer to science, the Mad Lab. It is a mobile laboratory that offers daily scientific demonstrations to little passers-by.

Children watch a science experiment by Mad Lab at Expo 2020

At Expo 2020 Dubai, Women Pavilion (Women's Pavilion), the first of its kind in a Universal Exposition, with the claim When women thrive, humanity thrives (when women thrive, humanity thrives), it is supporting a plethora of projects led by women around the world.

With numerous initiatives Women Pavilion is showing the achievements and contributions of women in society with the aim of raising awareness of gender equality and the importance of creating a more inclusive society. 

The debates fall within the scope of 'Visions and Journeys' of Women's World Majlis, in collaboration with the World Majlis, as part of the “Program for People and Planet” of Expo 2020 Dubai

"The UAE has placed gender equality and women's empowerment at the heart of their ethics since their foundation, recognizing the immense potential of women in contributing to the rapid advancement of the nation." Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science at the Italian Pavilion: Mind the STEM Gap international conference

On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022, Bracco Foundation, Aspen Institute Italy e Italy Pavilion with the international conference “Mind the STEM Gap“, They promoted female empowerment by emphasizing the importance of educating girls and young women in STEM disciplines.

The international platform of Expo 2020 Dubai was a great opportunity to share the importance of the need for a change in education systems globally, allowing women to access disciplines commonly dominated by men. 

“Women are an engine of civil, economic and social progress all over the world. No country can do without the contribution of women to growth: this is why in every field we must invest in the potential of women, engaging in the fight against all types of conditioning and discrimination: in society, in companies and in families themselves. Equal opportunities and rights must be pursued at the same time in all areas ". He said Diana Bracco president of the Bracco Foundation.

"The challenges that the Women's Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is pursuing are very close to my heart, not only as President of the Bracco Foundation but also as Ambassador for the B20 Women empowerment. The B20 task force that I led strongly recommended that all G20 governments bring back, after the effects of the pandemic, an increasing number of women into the labor market; breaking down cultural barriers in accessing STEM training for girls; achieve gender equality in the positions that matter ". 

The international conference was also an opportunity to launch in the Gulf of 'Mind the STEM Gap' Manifesto of the Bracco Foundation.

The event saw the participation, in the presence and remotely, of high institutional officials, such as Maria Cristina MessaItalian Minister of University and ResearchPatrizio Bianchi, Minister of Education, Elena Bonetti, Minister for Equal Opportunities and the family.

The Minister of University and Research Maria Cristina Messa stressed the need to spread knowledge of STEM disciplines and to encourage and support young girls and women to pursue careers in this sector. "Nowadays the number of women studying STEM subjects amounts to a 32%, of which a 12% specifically studies Engineering and Computer Science". But trend is changing. "Last year we saw a decrease in the absolute number of students but at the same time an increase in women who started their studies in STEM, between 3% and 12% in data science". And about the work that is being carried out, the ministry said that "Thanks to the funds arriving with the NRP, with an entire mission, number 4 dedicated to education and research, we aim at education and research, trying to increase the number of expert women. in science ".

The school plays a very important role in bringing girls closer to studying STEM disciplines "a decisive function for the elimination of stereotypes and prejudices", declared the Minister of Education. Patrizio Bianchi. "We must start with primary school to guide our children towards gender equality, and then get to universities, research centers, companies".

In his speech, Minister Bianchi spoke of investments and objectives to ensure equal opportunities and gender equality. “We are investing heavily with our NRP in terms of teaching and guidance in providing opportunities for women in science and technology. We aim to achieve the adoption of STEM guidelines in our institutions by 2025 ”.

For the Minister for Equal Opportunities and the family, Elena Bonetti “The first step to inspire girls to study STEM disciplines is to change the foundations and the structure of our educational systems. I am referring above all to the systematic association between disciplines, roles and gender, but there are no disciplines for men and disciplines for women. These are stereotypes that we must remove ”.

Elena Bonetti

“The Italian government is strongly committed to this goal. We have included STEM education for girls as one of the main pillars of the first Italian strategy for gender equality ”. "The wide range of actions proposed in the strategy includes the introduction of advanced courses in STEM disciplines, the funding of public scholarships for girls in STEM fields, the design of university courses aimed primarily at promoting professional women in STEM subjects, teacher training ".

Among others, in presence and in connection: Elena Zambon, Vice Chairman, Aspen Institute Italia; Maria Chiara CarrozzaPresident CNRRana Dajani, President of the Society for Advancement of Science and Technology in the Arab worldEleonora Dondossola, Faculty at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas; Ersilia Vaudo, Chief Diversity Officer, ESAGaela Bernini, Secretary General of Bracco Foundation; Marta Dassù, Senior Advisor European Affairs, Aspen Institute Italia; Alberto Quadrio Curzio, President Emeritus National Academy of the Lincei and General Council Aspen Institute Italy; Nihel Chabrak, CEO UAE University.

Even the president of the CNR, Maria Chiara Carrozza he stressed the need to invest "in education to promote the cultural message from primary school that girls can do what they want".

It is important to remove the barriers that, Carrozza specified "are mainly created by stereotypes and in the face of this we must change the environment, right from primary school, to invest in girls and allow them to think that they can do it, that they have the power. ".

Female empowerment and gender equality: the initiatives of the Bracco Foundation and Aspen Institute Italia  

Bracco Foundation gave birth to #100expert, a project born in 2016 that collects 100 names and CVs of STEM experts (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and aims to enhance female expertise in all fields, from science to politics, from economics to philosophy.

In the community of #100 experts there is Eleonora Dondossola, Faculty at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, selected among the "40 under in cancer", who talked about his experience in a interview with the Journal of Italian Healthcare World.

Her studies and career are an example for young women. “I have always had an interest in science, especially biology - he said during the Mind the STEM Gap conference - The support of my family has been very important for the choice of my studies and career. There were those who tried to discourage me by telling me that it was a path for men, but I went on my way ". The ability to communicate and spread interest in science is very difficult, but "it is up to teachers and parents to find the right keys to transmit interest in STEM disciplines from childhood."

'Mind the STEM Gap' Manifesto

Bracco Foundation has developed 'Mind the STEM Gap' a manifesto - launched in the B20-G20 Dialogue on Women's Empowerment and at the Mind The STEM Gap international conference in the Gulf area - aimed at overcoming gender disparity in STEM disciplines, raising awareness of women's contributions to science, promoting more inclusive education for girls, removing stereotypes and prejudice and support the community of educators at home and in schools.

Gaela Bernini

“It is a cultural commitment that must involve schools and families above all, but in which each of us can have a significant role”. He said Gaela Bernini, Secretary General of Bracco Foundation who invited everyone to share and sign the manifesto - which has 3 forms: the Manifesto of girls [and boys], the Manifesto in the family, the Manifesto at school - by connecting to the site: https://mindthestemgap.fondazionebracco.com/

“Studying STEM subjects is useful for the future but it is also a question of democracy that allows everyone to choose their job. The important thing is to believe in yourself and make a free choice, ”he said Gaela Bernini at the Journal of Italian Healthcare World.

Aspen Institute Italy

Aspen Institute Italia for the first time collaborates with the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), a unit of the UNESCO program founded in 1987. OWSD is the first international forum that brings together women leaders in the STEM sectors, both from the developing and developed world, with the aim of strengthening their role in the development process and promote a greater presence in technological and scientific leadership positions.

“Aspen Institute Italia is committed to creating awareness of how important the female contribution is in STEM. If we want to progress and innovate, it is important for society to invest in women ”. He said Elena Zambon, Vice Chairman, Aspen Institute Italia.

“Women have a different approach thanks to their innate creativity that adapts to scientific research and data analysis. They have perseverance, a fundamental characteristic that distinguishes them, they are responsible and are deeply committed to their studies and career and work, they tend to create an ethical environment ".

Aspen Institute Italia during the Mind The STEM Gap international conference launched ten scholarships for the women of Southern Italy.

"To reduce the gap that exists between men and women in STEM subjects, we have decided to finance ten new scholarships that will allow some girls from Southern Italy to take study courses in one of the seven most prestigious Italian universities". He announced Marta Dassù, Senior Advisor European Affairs, Aspen Institute Italia.

The Institute will also support an Early Fellowship which in 2022 will be awarded by OWSD to a woman who has obtained a PhD in STEM subjects and is employed in one of the countries lagging behind in scientific and technological development (STLC), to allow her to continue her search in your country.