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Information for a choice: Empowering young women through learning for technical professions and science careers

Final Report Summary - IFAC (Information for a choice: Empowering young women through learning for technical professions and science careers)

Women are underrepresented in the field of science and technology. Available statistics from the European Union shows that women today represent less than 30 % of graduates in information and communications technology (ICT) programmes and hold fewer high-level academic positions than their male counterparts. Two significant underlying causes for female exclusion in the field of science, engineering and technology (SET) are the pre-existing stereotypes that reinforce male dominance in the workplace and secondly the lack or limited information of role models, who can provide accurate information about career paths and obstacles faced.

The partnership addressed the issue of 'choice', and low female participation in SET. Our target group is young women in their high school years, in the process of selecting a degree and career path. The project focused on providing accurate information and present role models who can act as mentors for those young women, through the creation of an IT information system, which enables access to young women across Greece and other EU countries but also ensure sustainable results since it will be linked to the planning department (with responsibility for documentation and analysis for lifelong training) created by the coordinator, E.KE.PIS. Studies conducted by each participating country, yielded documentation resources on status quo of women represented in SET, collected best practices and past projects experiences and present a comparative analysis.

Furthermore the designed and developed IT information system is used as a tool for internal and external dissemination, and as the means through which role model cases are projected to the particular target group. Finally, the policy paper that was produced as a main result of the project, utilises the surveys and workshops outputs providing instrumental guidance for policy improvements, encouraging female participation and continuing employment in SET careers.

The major achievements made during the reporting period along the active work packages are presented below. The project held its two planned consortium meetings: third consortium meeting in Vienna on January 2008, fourth consortium meeting in Athens on June 2008. During the second period, IFAC project achieved to finalise the collection of material concerning best practices and past projects which was used as input for the policy paper. Role models were also finished and the consortium collected 21 fully exploitable 'role models' interviews from all participating countries. The consortium succeeded in finalising all the requested work for the content, design and format of the role models database. The consortium succeeded also in producing the publication of the final report titled 'Promoting young women in SET: lessons learned. a cross-national analysis of past research projects'. The IFAC project organised and hosted two public workshops as initially planned. The third public workshop was held in Vienna 17 January 2008, and was entitled 'Strategies and policies maximising the participation of young women in science, engineering and technology (SET)'. The fourth and final workshop was held in Athens on 1 July 2008, and was entitled 'Young girls towards SET: educational choices and career development. Results of the IFAC project' The IT infrastructure was more elaborated upgrading to its latest technological platform. The IT infrastructure serves as reference for the project, offers a collaborative internal area for partner's communication, and most importantly, has been developed to support the development of the IFAC community.

The project concluded the internal evaluation task. The evaluation was conducted based on the methodology and the appropriate tools that were provided as outcomes from the first period. Furthermore the external evaluator conducted the work of the external evaluation, providing useful results for the outcomes, the strengths and weaknesses of the project as well as the opportunities and threats. The consortium followed the dissemination strategy and carried out successful dissemination activities in each participating country as well as in broader EU level. The project disseminated the second, third and fourth issue of the IFAC Newsletter as well.

The project partners achieved substantial outcomes concerning the dissemination activities that were carried out. In each participating country, there is a continuous process of getting IFAC known and aware the target audiences by scheduled meetings, closed workshops, publications in partner's newsletters, publication of articles and presentations in national / EU-wide seminars.

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