"Nobody needs a sword to be a STEM hero - just a sharp mind"

Numerous girls and young women are involved and enthusiastic about MINT topics. Be it mathematicians, computer scientists, natural scientists or technicians who follow their MINT passion both as students and as professionals. In zdi-Heldinnen-Oktober we tell their stories to inspire others as well. Magdalena Hein reports in an interview what is planned for the month.

Dear Magdalena, you have been dealing with the topic of girls and STEM for years. There is always the assumption that girls are less interested in STEM than boys. Can you confirm that from your work?

no way. At zdi, we very often see young women identify with the natural sciences, become enthusiastic about math or robotics, for example, and look for like-minded people. This is reflected in the fact that 45% of our participants are women. This actually gives me the confidence that STEM interest is less a question of gender and more of a question of type. Nevertheless, it is important to involve young women in the development of zdi offers, for example, in order to find out what they are really enthusiastic about and interested in.

Nevertheless, data on gender distribution in MINT professions still reflect a significantly lower proportion of girls. How do you explain that?

In fact, at the end of their school careers, significantly fewer girls decide on a MINT profession or a MINT degree than boys do. Although they are at least as qualified. However, our social structures make it difficult for young women to develop independently and openly in a professional direction. And this is independent of social characteristics and expectations. Here we would like to encourage girls to get involved in the MINT professional world. The "zdi-Heldinnen-Oktober" serves to break old patterns and show a variety of ways.

And how do you want to do it?

The diversity of MINT doers is our focus. Because there are both the women who are present and loud promote STEM, as well as those who lead the way in the background as a silent role model. We think: nobody needs a sword to be a STEM heroine - what is important is an alert mind. In addition, the variety of content is very large - MINT, for example, can be found in so many professions. Precisely because jobs are becoming more and more interdisciplinary, it is important to recognize that your own MINT knowledge can also help to meet social challenges, for example. Be it statisticians who help to correctly interpret numbers in the current corona pandemic, engineers who work on sustainable solutions for energy supply, or astrophysicists who gain groundbreaking insights from space travel. They all make an important contribution to a healthy, secure future - and that is what drives today's generation of young people. From our point of view, the contextualisation of content or topics is particularly important for STEM promotion.

Magdalena Hein reports on the zdi heroines October 2020.

You can find all information about the campaigns in zdi-Heldinnen-October under www.zdi-heldinnen.de/oktober

Can you name a few actions in zdi-heldinnen-October?

Our zdi networks and zdi school labs are offering more courses in October that are either primarily aimed at girls or that can be particularly attractive to them thematically. As already mentioned, girls - but also boys - are often less interested in the individual technique and more interested in the overall context. We also present female scientists who deal with special topics and are inspirational for young women. And we collect voices from girls and women who tell us how they want to change the future with STEM. And there will be one or the other on-site event to which we invite MINT-enthusiastic girls. I'm looking forward to all the STEM heroines!

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