Brussels, 07 Mar 2006
The WomenInNano project aims to encourage women to take a more active interest in science, and especially nanotechnology, using experienced researchers in the field as ambassadors.
Eleven women from Germany, Romania, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia, the UK, Bulgaria, Italy and France will act as 'ambassadors for women and science': The ambassadors believe that women scientists in many countries lack contact with role models, which makes it more difficult for them to achieve their ambitions. The team plan to publicise their work in order to provide the necessary role models and demonstrate that it is possible to be a senior figure in science and also be a woman. The ambassadors intend to:
- encourage women to work in nanotechnology;
- attract young people to the field;
- build networks of women already working in nanotechnology;
- encourage women to participate in EU programmes;
- develop gender equality in scientific research;
- build a dialogue between science and society.
Dr Annett Gebert from the Leibniz-Institute for solid state and materials research in Dresden is the coordinator for the project, and talked to CORDIS news. 'I am strongly involved in the scientific community. Our industry is dominated by males, at all levels, including decision-making, conference organisation, project funding, etc. We also feel that younger girls do not consider the natural sciences as a career path. Girls feel that they have no talent in this field, and we want to address this. After talking about this with colleagues, we decided to do something about it.'
CORDIS News asked Dr Gebert why gender stereotypes persist today. 'I am from Eastern Germany, and so my history is a little different from my colleagues, but I feel it is a traditional thing, and not driven by politics. Society looks at what roles people should play, and this pushes women into the social sciences, but not natural or engineering sciences,' she said.
The project is grouped into three stages. In stage one, the team will establish the project's framework, identify competencies in the field and draw up a list of women working in nanotechnology throughout Europe.
In stage two, the media campaign begins, with public events, workshops and visits to schools. The third and final stage involves meeting decision-makers to develop best practice in the recruitment of researchers.
The 30-month project will receive 500,000 euro in funding under the Science and Society priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The contract was signed in 2006, and the project is already into stage one.