Sunday, 24 January 2021

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#STEM in the City in MILAN


An opportunity for young women to support the Sustainable Development Goals while building a career in STEM

Too few young women are choosing engineering and technology as a career path. A recent Microsoft study of 11,500 girls and young women across Europe found that their interest in STEM subjects dropped dramatically at the age of 15 due to gender stereotypes, peer pressure, lack of female role models and lack of encouragement from parents and teachers.

This is alarming, due to the fact that most employment opportunities in the future will most likely lie in STEM fields, with the digital agenda being so high on the list of EU and some Member States.

"STEM Month" in Milan, Italy, held its main event on the 28th of April. On “Girls in ICT” day, many actions were taken to encourage girls in this growing field. This initiative was promoted by the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which aims to change stereotypes and to support young women in STEM courses. For three days, young women were involved in workshops, hackathons and roundtables.

Partners of #STEMintheCity included the Mayor of Milan (Mr. Giuseppe Sala), top universities, schools and the UN ITU. For the fourth year in a row, UNRIC participated in this annual initiative, which is aimed at boosting the value of digital skills for girls and sharing the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Stem Event in MILAN

Caroline Petit, Deputy-Director at UNRIC, held a TEDx-style speech on “Women beyond Borders: How to Break Stereotypes”. She stressed the critical importance of high quality education, especially in the area of science and innovation. Ms Petit also acknowledged the essential role of gender equality, as well as the vital responsibilities that cities and the private sector have in achieving the 17 SDGs. 

As part of her speech, Caroline invited Sofiia Makanova, a talented 20-year-old student and a current graphic design intern at UNRIC, to produce a short video to encourage girls to fight stereotypes and participate in STEM. Sofiia noted that “It doesn`t matter your origin, your age or your gender: if STEM makes you excited and motivated, as it does for me, if it sincerely inspires you to create something extraordinary and to be the best in what you love, you are already beyond stereotypes”.

Caroline Petit highlighted the possibilities that today’s resources combined with STEM knowledge could offer: “It is time to transform the way we do things; sustainability is all about design and shaping our environment, it is an opportunity to turn a sustainable project into a successful career”. She also promoted the importance of “togetherness”, and the inclusion of migrants and refugees in achieving a better world. 

Diversity must be celebrated in all of its forms as it is one of our biggest assets in successfully achieving the SDGs. The examples of women contributing to STEM globally are increasing as we speak! One example is Giuseppina Nicolini, the Mayor of Lampedusa, who recently received the UNESCO Peace Prize for her inclusive work with migrants. Samantha Cristoforetti, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut , holds the records for longest single space flight by a woman (199 days 16 hours) and for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut, and 19-year-old Bebe Vio, an Italian Paralympian fencer, who is a global advocate for children, raising awareness of meningococcal disease. Every day, women show acts of courage, collaborating for economic growth, innovation and above all, gender equality.




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