Women continue to be under-represented in research at a time when Europe needs more researchers to foster innovation and bolster its economy.
There is a growing pool of female talents in Europe from which research and innovation should benefit: the She Figures 2012 points out that the share of women graduating at PhD level now stands at 45% ; however women remain a minority in scientific research, accounting only for 33% of researchers in the EU. There are many factors at work explaining the lack of women in research in general and in some sectors in particular. Some are linked to the practices of research institutions and others to persistent stereotypes which affect the culture and image of science, deterring women from embracing a scientific career. The campaign intends to address these stereotypes.
In June 2012, the European Commission launched this major EU-wide campaign "Women in Research and Innovation" to encourage more women to choose research careers. Under the slogan, 'Science: it's a girl thing!' the first phase of the campaign targets girls aged 13-18, and aims at encouraging girls to embrace a scientific school curriculum.
The decision of targeting young teenagers was made on the basis that in those years, pupils are somehow asked to make a lifetime choice: the direction chosen while still in secondary school is likely to have a strong influence on the professional path the person will take while entering the labour market. The overall message conveyed by the Campaign to the girls is that science and research can offer great opportunities for their future careers.
The " Science: it's a girl thing" campaign includes a wide range of activities:
The campaign has now a broader involvement from the scientific and educational community and is reaching its target audience.
The European Commission is currently assessing the pilot phase, in order to prepare new activities. More information on future activities will soon be shared.