EQUALS-EU: EMBRACING GENDER EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY TO FOSTER STEM CAREERS AND SOCIAL INNOVATION
ALL DIGITAL AISBL (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 17th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2023
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:STEM : Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
ICT: Information and Communication technology
Historically, women’s access and participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics have been hardly hampered or even forbidden, considering the traditional understanding of roles within societies. In addition, characteristics like the ethnicity, country of origin, beliefs, disabilities, social and financial backgrounds and gender (which includes how gender is perceived and which gender is identified, recognised and self-declared), often become a discriminant factor when starting a STEM path. For years, diversity has been considered a minor factor and very few has reached to create a more equal and fair society where diversity can be embraced to foster the access to growth opportunities. According to some recent statistics (OHCHR –UN Guide for Minorities, 2019), diversity is now a topic that stands already at the core of the global population and policies.
This paper aims at exploring the type of actions that civil society organisations, in collaboration with Universities, SMEs, corporates, and associations, can use to raise awareness about gender balance within STEM and contribute to European policies effectively. After a short overview of the recent European policies on gender and inclusion within STEM, this paper tackles the context by addressing how organisations could translate and elaborate on gender balance within society, whether they support a gender inclusive environment and support a parallel path in integration and innovation.
This paper will also showcase ta flagship project devoted to this topic: EQUALS-EU: Europe’s Regional Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. It is a 3-year project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, coordinated by OsloMet University and involving 19 organisations from Europe and beyond. The scope of the partnership is to question the current situation on gender equality within STEM and identify potential role models to inspire girls in pursuing STEM careers and empower women in joining and taking leadership roles especially in ICT. Indeed, digital inclusion is the key to providing new pathways and novel solutions for ensuring that women and girls can participate in the entire sphere of economic, social, political, and cultural life.
Besides the policy context and the current European partnership experience, this paper will balso share, as a case study, several raising awareness activities carried out by the ALL DIGITAL NGO, a pan-European network of educational organisation providing training activities to enhance digital competences across Europe and beyond.
In conclusion, this paper will contribute to identifying already existing initiatives, policies, and actors to stimulate more initiatives and opportunities to foster a gender-inclusive, and overall inclusive, innovation ecosystems for a more equal, fair society. And it will bring forward ideas about the role of civil society organisations and the overall focus and opportunities they can foster at international level to facilitate a more gender equality and overall diverse society, especially within STEM.
Keywords: Women in STEM, gender-inclusive innovation, gender equality, partnership, European projects, digital inclusion.