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Available statistical data show that over the past 15 years most of the OECD economies (including the EU) have experienced a large increase in the number of students in higher education. However, the proportion of science and technology students has steadily decreased during the same period. Some disciplines, such as mathematics, physical sciences, engineering and conputer technology show particularly worrying trends for female students. Although several actions have been depeloped to encourage girls to these studies, we continue having a gender gap in the high education fields. Nowadays, when the European economies are facing a continuous transition to a more technology intensive model, the key competences in science and technology are the key to develop the economic and social model of the future and we need both women and men for a competitive Europe.
Nowadays the proportion of women active in Science & Technology research is low in most European and associated countries, and in a near-future, this low trend seems to continue. Percentages of female maths, science and technology graduates have an average of 31% across Europe. Despite nearly 30 years of efforts to engage girls in physical sciences and engineering, girls still remain in a minority.
However, boys and girls perform similarly in Science in Secondary Education (Pisa 2012). Whilst there is still some debate about whether the vocational differences are innate or cultural, there is a high level of concern that both girls and science are losing out, meanwhile, the demand for graduates in these fields continues to grow in order to keep on innovating.
The 2008 Euro barometer, carried out among the 15 to 25 years population, showed that this population has a high level of interest and a positive view about science and technology (67%), but only a minority is considering scientific studies.
Finally, available statistical data show that over the past 15 years most of the OECD economies (including the EU) have experienced a large increase in the number of students in higher education. However, the proportion of science and technology students has steadily decreased during the same period. Some disciplines, such as mathematics or physical sciences, show particularly worrying trends.
According to the information stated, it can be concluded that the scientific vocation among young students is increasingly low, and the gender gap continues. Nowadays, when the European economies are facing a continuous transition to a more technology-intensive model, the key competences in science and technology are the key to develop the economic and social model of the future. This is why the decreasing motivation towards S&T studies is an important problem in Europe that needs action.
THE OBJECTIVE ANSWERING TO THE NEED:
This scenario is something we can change, but it will take time. We need all the talent we have – from girls and boys – to maintain our ability to innovate, and that implies the need for research within gender issues in science education. Furthermore, there is a need for change within Teacher Training that can revise and strengthen the professional profile of the teaching professions, with the aim of fostering equity and inclusion in science education. The STING project (Erasmus+ 2014-1-ES01-KA201-003688), aimed to foster quality improvements, innovation excellence and internationalisation in Teacher Training of gender for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) teachers, in particular through enhanced transnational cooperation between schools, science centres, Teacher Training organizations and policymakers. As a continuation, EMERGENT project continues with the implementation of the developed experiences and activities, with the best practice sharing among STEM education professionals, focused in the identification of differences and sharing new ways to enhance STEM education activities both in school and out-of-school activities (science museums, for example).
The main objective of this project is to raise and share good science education practices for gender balance through innovative workshops among different profile education professionals. The partners will design and participate in several workshops about different topics, all related to gender awareness experiences and sharing best practices.
To ensure the project’s relevance, educational stakeholders and policymakers of several countries will be invited to participate in the workshops.
– Mapping the maze: Getting more women to the top in research
– Directorate General Education and Culture, 2005. Key Data on Education in Europe. Brussels. Eurydice
– PISA 2012 Results in Focus:
– Gender Differences in Educational Outcomes: Study on the Measures Taken and the Current Situation in Europe
– Evolution of Student Interest in Science and Technology Studies – Policy report