#100tífiques: promoting science and technology among young people and enhancing female role models
Several female scientists from the Computer Vision Center (CVC) participated in the #100tífiques programme, an initiative promoted by the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI) and the Barcelona Institute for Science and Technology (BIST) in collaboration with the Education Department of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
The #100tífiques programme aims to raise awareness of the strategic role of women in science and technology and promote collaboration between academic and business scientists. This initiative seeks to foster a more direct and reciprocal relationship between science and society and increase women's visibility and representation in these fields.
As part of this initiative, female scientists are invited to give talks in schools throughout Catalonia during the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11th). These talks are aimed at 6th-grade primary and 1st-year ESO students to promote female role models in science and engineering and encourage scientific vocations among young people, particularly girls.
In this year's edition, 6 CVC scientists have joined the initiative and contributed to giving visibility to the work of women in the field of Artificial Intelligence, which is, in fact, one of the most male-dominated fields in science.
Their talks were held in various schools across Catalonia:
- Dr Aura Hernandez, CVC Researcher, gave a talk at the School La Florida in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda.
- Alex Gómez, PhD student, gave a talk at the School Joan Pelegrí in Barcelona.
- Laura Martín Montañez, Science Communication Specialist, gave a talk at the School Salvador Vinyals Galí in Terrassa.
- Dr Debora Gil, CVC Researcher, gave a talk at the School of Coma-ruga.
- Dr Fátima López, Head of Technology Transfer and Industry Partnerships, gave a talk at the Torre Vicens high school, in Lleida.
- Meritxell Bassolas, Head of Strategic Projects, gave a talk at the School Sant Josep in Navàs.
An enriching experience for both students and scientists
Participating in #100tífiques has been a positive and rewarding experience for both students and scientists. Alex Gómez-Villa, PhD student at CVC, focused her talk on AI as a tool for the benefit of society through demonstrations, quizzes, and an open debate with around 180 students. "The most rewarding part was seeing their genuine interest and questions," Alex explains. "I joined the initiative because I think it's important for citizens, especially young people, to change their perspective about researchers, to see them not as the typical white male locked up in a laboratory. Additionally, I wanted young girls to see a woman researcher to inspire them and change their perspective of what a researcher is like."
Dr Aura Hernández, who participated in #100tífiques for the second year, also points out the importance of awakening scientific vocations and demystifying the role of a scientist. "Both students and teachers showed interest in asking questions. It is hugely rewarding to see the expectations that the girls and boys have", highlights Dr Hernández about her experience.
As for Dr Debora Gil, she finds the initiative valuable in creating bonds with secondary school teachers. "Meeting the teachers has allowed for a communication flow beneficial for both parties. The teacher's point of view helps improve the program, and secondary teachers can learn about initiatives carried out at universities to encourage their students in science-related fields."
This year's edition of #100tífiques invited not only female researchers but also professionals from other disciplines who contribute to the progress of science and technology, such as science communicators, project managers and innovation coordinators, among others. Meritxell Bassolas, Strategic Projects Manager at CVC, emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about the growing job opportunities in science, not only in research but also in other fields such as dissemination or management. She also shares her experience in the school: "Students are highly interested in learning new things outside their day-to-day school life. During my talk, they demonstrated a good knowledge of technology and were highly enthusiastic about learning more about AI".
Fátima Lopez, Head of Technology Transfer and Industry Partnerships, also points out the need for more women in science and the importance of demystifying science as something complicated and only for men: "I joined the initiative to share the potential of a degree in physics in a professional career and to encourage girls to pursue scientific careers. We all have the same capacities."
Finally, Laura Martín Montañez, Science Communications Specialist at CVC, joined the initiative to share her passion for science and build bridges between science and society in this case, in a school located in a disadvantaged area. "The students warmly welcomed me and asked many questions. I was struck by their curiosity and grateful for the opportunity to learn from them and to see science from their perspectives. Together, we explored some AI demostrations and a range of diverse role models, including scientists from backgrounds similar to theirs. Having been a curious child myself, I felt a strong connection to them", Laura explains.
The experiences of CVC scientists in #100tífiques are just a few of the 573 professionals who participated in this fifth edition of the program, reaching 518 schools and more than 40,000 students.