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University of Alicante celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

A broad programme of activities will be launched on 10 February based on meetings between schoolchildren and women researchers with the aim of consolidating female leaders in science and technology



Alicante, Wednesday 5 February 2020

Today, women and girls are facing multiple barriers — some of them very subtle — that make their presence in science difficult. On 15 December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11F), promoting the organisation of public awareness activities to help achieve greater participation and progress of women and girls in science. Within the framework of the strategic plan and policies for equality of the University of Alicante Gender Equality Office, in collaboration with various university offices such as the one for for Research and Knowledge Transfer, through UA Divulga-  Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i), and the University Venues Coordinating Unit, assigned to the Office for Culture, Sports and Languages. These offices present a comprehensive activity programme that will be developed both on the campus of San Vicente del Raspeig and in Alicante city, as well as in several towns in the province, such as Villena, with a variety of science workshops for children and a programme of lectures, exhibitions and a film series on women and science in Elda.

As Director of the Gender Equality Office and also Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility, Inclusion and Gender Equality María José Rodríguez maintains, one of the main goals of this day — having been celebrated for three years now at the UA  — is to make secondary and primary school children aware of women scientists. To this end, a programme of guided tours specially designed for non-university educational centres in the province of Alicante has been set up and will take place between 11 and 14 February.

The action includes an explanatory tour around a campus with equal opportunities and pathways with a gender perspective. A particular way of getting to know the Campus from this perspective by linking the different milestones and monuments that commemorate achievements made by women in science, architecture, sports, journalism, etc.); the visit to an exhibition on girls as warriors and engineers: Hypatia, as well as the lecture on gender equality in Engineering, especially designed for primary education schools. Coordinated by Encarnación Nieves Gimeno, from the University of Alicante Department of Physics, Systems Engineering and Signal Theory, the lecture was intended to answer questions such as what the role of women in engineering is or why the proportion of women engineers is so low, as stated by Rodríguez Jaume. Moreover, with a language adapted to children, videos of toy advertisements, riddles and experiments, young people are explained the reasons why this happens and tools will be provided to help children feel that they are capable of developing a career in whatever field they choose. 


Celebrations at the UA

As part of this International Day to promote female talents and empowerment in science, a panel discussion will be offered on Women in Science. Date, time and place: 11 February, at 10 am at the Faculty of Arts II (Geography and History). Moderated by Vice President for Research and Knowledge Transfer Amparo Navarro, the goal is twofold: to make the contribution of women to scientific and social progress visible and to promote female role models in research and science among young generations. The discussion panel will be made up of Professor in Immunology and President of the Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI) África González, UA Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health and member of the Centre for Biomedical Research Network in Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP) Mª Teresa Ruíz Cantero, Lecturer of Spanish Literature and Director of the UA Institute for Gender Studies Research Helena Establier, and Senior Telecommunications Engineer and Managing Director at Prensa Valenciana Media publishing house Victoria Majadas.

Also on 11 February, the Alicante-MACA Contemporary Arts Museum will offer several talks on  21st-century science at 5 pm. They will be given by the UA scientists Amparo Marco (from the research group in Star Astrophysics , and Paula Gabriela Benavidez, from the research group in Astronomy and Astrophysics, where they will explain the science currently being carried out in our country. In addition, they will talk about the Universe and our place in the Galaxy, about star clusters, asteroids and comets. The talks have been organised by ARP (Society for the Advancement of Critical Thinking), ADCAlicante (Association of Scientific Dissemination of Alicante) and UA Divulga (Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit -UCC+i).



The UA campus will host several free exhibitions from 10 February open to the public from 8 am to 10 pm. EU funded project Hypatia will be exhibited at the Aifos Hall. Under the slogan “We girls are warriors ... As well as engineers (and scientists, technologists, mathematicians...)”, the exhibition aims to attract more girls into science and technology fields, known as STEM education. Five great women represented by classic Spanish dolls such as Mariquita Pérez or Nancy, come along a panel dedicated to the role of toys in scientific careers. A video is also projected with testimonies of researchers talking about their female role models in science.

Artist Elena Poritskaya (Lena Kay) presents a collaborative project with a team of scientists from the Polytechnic University of Valencia to translate the essence of research in the field of biomedical data science into a popular language: Art for Science at the lecture building No. 2. She will deliver the opening lecture on Monday 10 February, at 7 pm in classroom A2/D01 of the same building, followed by a tour around the exhibition. The event has been organised by FeVaDiC (Valencian Federation for Popular Science), ADCAlicante, and UA Divulga (UCC+i).

Finally, the lecture building No. 1 hosts an exhibition on illustrious scientists in the progress of Cellular and Molecular Biology with the aim of making the contribution of women to science visible, promoting female role models as scientists and helping break gender stereotypes. Coordinated by University of Alicante Department of Biotechnology lecturer Magdalena García Irles, a group of Biology students offer us an exhibition around the most relevant findings made by women, such as the structure of DNA, genetic engineering techniques or current knowledge of the evolutionary origin of eukaryotic cells, among others.

Also, on Wednesday 12 February from 10 am at our Social Club I, the University of Alicante joins  the international action Global Women Breakfast promoted by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) coinciding with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. A breakfast organised to share experiences, ideas and potential projects on how women can make more progress in their professional careers. 


Robotics competition

The University of Alicante becomes the venue for the robotics competition First Lego League that will be held on Saturday 15 February 2020, from 9am to 2pm, at the Assembly Hall of lecture building No. 2. This international challenge aims to awaken interest and promote the values of science and technology among young people aged 10 to 16 through the development of teamwork skills, innovation and creativity. For the first time, the competition has awarded scholarships to teams made up exclusively of girls. Through this initiative, the organising committee aims to promote female talent in scientific and technological vocations, giving them visibility and encouraging them to have confidence in their abilities.


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