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|Name of Organisation:||Association of Hungarian Women in Science|
|Main implementing organisation:||Association of Hungarian Women in Science|
|Line of Business:||The mission of the Association of Hungarian Women in Science is to support efforts and initiatives that help to achieve the equal treatment of men and women in the field of science and education.|
|End Date:||Still Ongoing|
|Transferability of the initiative||Programme has been taken from another context (i.e. country, sector or size of organization)|
|Programme is considered to be transferable to another context|
|Type of initiative referring to strategic objectives||individual|
|Type of initiative, located on the stage of career progression of women scientists||Pre-University|
|Qualification (Higher Education)|
Short term objectives:
In the short term, the aim is to get more and more young girls to take part in the Shadowing Program, in order to show them a real picture of women scientists, this way encouraging them to take up a career in the field of science and technology.
Long term objectives:
In the long term the main purpose of the initiative is to increase the number of the women in science by using the tool of the national annual Shadowing day which gives young girls the chance to follow women RTD leaders as a shadow for a whole day and thus raising their interest in the scientific career.
Less and less young people, particularly girls, take up scientific-related subjects or pursue a scientific career; moreover there is a decline all over in Europe among youngsters who apply for university in the field of science and technology. The ratio of girl students in some of the disciplines doesn’t achieve the 10 per cent, while in secondary schools they are outstanding in subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology.
The conditions for working in research, technology and development (RTD) seem very unattractive to young women, as they have the image of the scientist’s life being extremely harsh and competitive: long working hours with overtime work, no spare time, no work-life balance, no holidays and no individualised labour relations.
One way to reverse this negative trend is to encourage more young people, particularly women, to take up a scientific-related career. In Hungary the Association of Hungarian Women in Science is the first organisation that started this initiative addressed specifically to girls.
There is a low number of women studying mathematics, engineering, informatics and technology, all over Europe.
So the main objective of this initiative is to inspire talented young girls to get brave enough to choose Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in higher education and pursue a career in RTD.
The idea has been to show girls what a typical day of a woman leader in RTD is, by accompanying or "shadowing" a female role model for a day. This can help to break the misconception that the research and technology sector is "boys’ only".
On shadowing days the girls can see how a woman scientist or RTD manager works and they can ask questions whenever they want. Through this experience they can draw the conclusion that they don’t have to choose between family and career, and that one can become a leader even if being a woman.
Existing statistics demonstrate the low participation of women in the STEM sector, particularly in decision making roles. So the motive for launching the initiative is to show that a even a decision making position can be woman-friendly.
The mission of the Association of Hungarian Women in Science is to support efforts and initiatives that help to achieve the equal treatment of women and men in the field of science, technology and education, e.g. by supporting women’s career in RTD, increasing the role of women in scientific research, especially at the decision-making level, and influencing public opinion and attitudes.
The direct target groups are the school-girls.
1. Who was responsible for conducting the initiative (function) and where was the initiative internally settled?
Beata Szoboszlai, Secretary of the Association of Hungarian Women in Science
2. How many people (men & women) conducted the initiative?
3. What resources (time and money) were available to implement the initiative?
TIME: Since June 2011 weekly 5-10 hours have been spent on implementing the initiative by the secretary of the Association of Hungarian Women in Science.
4. How was the initiative internally managed and supervised?
First, the idea to launch the program was approved by the Association's General Assembly. Then the secretary of the association conducted the project from start to finish.
5. How was the initiative implemented, what were the steps to be taken? What activities were carried out?
The first step was to select girls who reached ranked position in national high-school competitions in the topics of physics, chemistry and biology. Permission was asked from the school principals and parents. Most of the girls selected came from the countryside, as we strived to avoid Budapest-centralization during the selection process.
Then the girls’ transport to Budapest was taken care of.The volunteers of the Association waited the girls at the railway stations, and accompanied them to the host institution. At the shadowing day the girl students followed their lead female for a whole day and they were involved in all actual work processes.
The program was fully funded by the association and the host institution; it also included the travel costs and the lunch. After the shadowing day the girls’ task was to write a one page long report. They had to explain their experiences, give comments and suggestions about the day and about the project. These reports will be translated into English and sent to relevant authorities (European Commission, etc.).
At this first occasion in Hungary two organizations undertook the hosting of the girls. The first Shadowing day was on 17 of October 2011 (evopro Ltd., 4 girls), and the second one was on 7 of November 2011 (Genetic Immunity Ltd., 3 girls).
6. How was the initiative accepted by the target groups?
The initiative was accepted positively by both the student girls and by the host institutions. The girls were very satisfied; they were asking a lot of questions at both occasions, and really took part in the days in merit. The mentors were pleased to share their experiences and gave them some useful advice.
The most important factors of success are that the companies have warmly welcomed the girls and the girls' parents, as well as the school directors were very proud that their children/students were selected.
The shadowing events were preceded by two presentation at relevant national events (Researchers’ Night and Bridges of Science), where the Association had an opportunity to promote the program in front of a wide audience. In addition, a 45-minute radio interview was given by the secretary of the association where she had a chance to present and promote the program.
The environment has mainly been supportive. The leaders of host institutions agreed and promoted the program.
Girls who have achieved a ranked position in national competitions were given the opportunity to participate in the program. It would be worth to develop a wider program where the prize for the winners includes a shadowing visit to a relevant company.
The benefit for the organisation (and for the whole research sphere of Hungary) is that talents will not be lost.
The talented girls will become more motivated and they hopefully will apply for university faculties of science and technology.
Also an important benefit is that the initiative draws attention to the women and science issue in general and to Association of Hungarian Women and Science and its activities, in particular. The action brings the association closer to both the young generation and the companies.
Moreover, the host institutions receive media attention as a Corporate Social Responsibility sensitive organisation.
The initiative is sustainable with the active contribution of the Association of Hungarian Women in Science.
The program will be continued in a hopefully nation-wide context in the spring of 2012.
The initiative has already been used by the European Commission. Every year, the European Commission launches a shadowing exercise, working together with some leading companies in Europe to give young women a taste of what a job in STEM would be like.
The initiative is transferable to other contexts, e.g., it can also be introduced for the first-year students in at universities.
It affects RTD directly by attracting talented young girls to the STEM sector and thus contributing to new Hungarian and European research results.
The alarmingly low number of girls attending natural science and engineering faculties at the universities leads to the low representation of female researchers in several, mostly technology-related sectors of science. This problem should be addressed urgently if Europe would like to have sufficient number of researchers.
The Shadowing program is focusing on the youngsters before they decide on their choice of career,and in this way it takes care of their talents.
By giving young girls with outstanding knowledge in science subjects a chance to follow a female role model for a whole day, they can get on overview what they can expect from a career in RTD.
During the Shadowing day the girls can follow all work phases, ask their questions, while the woman role model provides them with some useful advice for their future life. By the end of the day the girls may – hopefully – get to the opinion that it is well worth to become a researcher, and their initial interest in science subjects will be confirmed, leading them to choose scientific or technical faculties at the university.
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