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A better, more gender-inclusive way to teach science

With a growing need for more young people to pursue a career in STEM, researchers have developed guidelines on how to make STEM subjects and learning more gender inclusive.

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The way sciences are communicated to young people, in and out of school, is not yet gender inclusive. Young Europeans, both girls and boys, still have very little idea of the variety of careers that are possible in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). “In the coming years, with Europe’s knowledge economy developing and new technologies on the rise, skills in STEM will be needed for a broader range of careers than ever before,” says Meie van Laar, team leader for the EU-funded Hypatia project. How to teach science better The researchers set out to provide schools, museums and industries with guidelines for improved gender inclusion in teaching. They sought to introduce new concepts in the approach to gender in science education that promote gender equality. The project aimed to use hubs and lead by science centres to host the promoted activities. “The vision of Hypatia is a European society that communicates science to youth in a gender-inclusive way,” explains van Laar. “The Hypatia project aims to expose young people, and especially girls, to the variety of STEM-related careers.” The Hypatia project was unique in that it created 14 hubs all over Europe comprised of panels of schools and other institutions that include young people. Coordinated by science centres and museums, the hubs have been working together for three years to create more gender-inclusive practices in Europe. The ‘Expect Everything’ campaign Teenagers have played an important role in the project by leading the ‘Expect Everything’ campaign and working with museums and science centres to create content for the initiative. The Hypatia project transformed the ‘Science, it’s a Girl Thing’ campaign to the Expect Everything campaign to inspire teenagers across Europe and reflect the spirit of STEM. The Hypatia team provided ready-to-use activities for schools, museums and industries to incorporate gender inclusion. The project facilitated dialogue among policymakers, industry and school decision-makers on the issue of gender inclusion using the Hypatia National Hubs. The challenge of working with teenagers The project was not without difficulties, as the team initially did not plan to develop a campaign together with teenagers. As the team continued with the project, they realised that the best way to reach teenagers was to give them a voice and really listen to what they had to say. “We had to develop a campaign not for them, but with them,” notes van Laar. “That meant a huge time investment, but it was really rewarding, and we are proud to have succeeded without dedicated money.” The team successfully delivered national action plans for individual countries on what can be done to make the project and its deliverables sustainable. For most of the partners, Hypatia has become a great accelerator in bringing about change in the way organisations can educate in a more inclusive way. “Teenagers are the best ambassadors for science we can have, and we hope to make this collaboration more sustainable over years,” van Laar concludes. “We are extremely proud to have them as part of the Expect Everything team, and they deserve the attention given to their work. All their work is available on the Expect Everything website.


Hypatia, STEM, teenagers, museums, gender-inclusive, science education

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