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Women’s science project wins international award

It was the low attendance of women in the physics course that motivated the professors at the Federal University of Rio January (UFRJ) Elis Sinnecker, Tatiana Rappaport, and Thereza Paiva to create the Tem Menina no Circuito Project, in 2013. With nearly ten years of existence, the initiative was the winning initiative of the 2022 edition of the Nature Prize for Inspiring Women in Science, in the Science Publishing category.

Nature, published since 1869, is currently one of the world’s leading scientific publications. a prize It was awarded to researchers at the Institute of Physics at a ceremony in London on the eleventh. “This award is very important to us, it is an international recognition, it is a very prestigious award,” said Teresa.

Tem Menina no Circuito was founded as an initiative to encourage girls to enjoy and become involved in the exact sciences. The project is being implemented in five schools in low-income areas of Rio January And since 2019, also in Uberlandia, Minas Gerais.

The project promotes a series of activities targeting girls. “We don’t call our activities a class, we make sure we don’t go to the board. The activities are practical,” explains Teresa. They combine materials commonly used in electrical circuits, such as batteries, conductive tapes, and LEDs, with fun things from crafts and manual labor, such as paper, fabric and modeling clay, and put what they’ve learned into practice.

In addition to activities in regular schools, the project encourages additional activities that take girls into science spaces, such as the laboratories of the UFRJ itself and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz). The project also implements activities in schools aimed at students in general, such as lectures, robotics workshops and science fairs, which include boys.

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women in science

This year, a report by the British Council, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), shows that Latin America and the Caribbean have reached gender parity in science, with Women represent 46% of the total number of researchers in the region.

However, when it comes to finer areas, the percentage of female researchers goes down. Looking only at Studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the study shows that the proportion of women researchers working in engineering and technology in the region is significantly lower than the proportion of men. In some countries, such as Bolivia and Peru, this percentage is less than 20%.

The project is created to encourage and provide opportunities for girls to pursue a career in the exact sciences. “Science needs diversity. For science, it is better to have different people working, and that increases the chance of solving problems,” says Teresa.

Another impact observed in the project is the increased search for higher education. From the moment students approach the universities, they view this space as a place they can occupy. “We do inclusion through science. It motivates girls and their surroundings, promotes science fairs, and stimulates the search for higher education,” the researcher says.

Earlier this year, together with other researchers, Teresa published an article with a survey of professors in the fields of mathematics, physics and chemistry from major universities and research centers located in the state of Rio de Janeiro. January. The data shows that There are more male professors in these fields than women.

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In the field of mathematics 104 women and 275 men and in the field of chemistry 167 women and 219 men. In the case of physics, the study identified a larger gap: 66 women and 258 men. Looking at the race, the difference is increasing. According to the publication, of the 324 physics professors and researchers at the institutions considered, only one non-white woman was found.

From student to teacher

Then-student Gabriela Galdino was one of the first participants in the project, in 2014, when she was in her second year of high school, at Alfredo Neves State School, in Nova Iguaçu. She says that she has always been interested in the field of exact sciences, but with the project she was able to get to know the areas of activity better.

The difference for me, in addition to physical activities, was my visits to universities. With the project, I was able to to have Access, imagine what a student’s routine was like at the university and realize it can be accessed,” he says.

Influenced by the project, Gabriella chose a career in physics and today He is a teacher in three schools. In class at UFRJ, she was one of the few girls and also one of the only girls to graduate in physics. Others ended up changing the course during training.

“I think girls end up not going to the designated area because of the lack of models, the lack of examples of what it would be like to work in such an area and for cultural reasons. Since we were young, we grew up caring for people, so they go into the areas of childhood care and education. early and health,” he says.

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The project is supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. January (Faperj) and the Reditus Institute and expanded its activities in 2019, also working at the Federal University of Uberlândia, in Minas Gerais.

With the award, the initiative will receive $50,000 to invest in activities related to scientific publishing and technology education.