What is STEM? Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, an area through which the educational and professional path leads to the broadly-understood science, technological industry and the interface of research and industry. It is precisely at this interface where the most interesting things happen – innovative solutions to problems, both the great civilisational ones and the smaller ones, related to everyday challenges.
The debate on STEM focuses on the question about making young people feel passionate about such subjects as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computer science, about the quality of such education, about the sense of studying engineering or science. The challenges related to building a career in ICT, in the technological industry, in science. And on the awareness of the fact that in order for the world to develop properly, in order for wise, knowledge-oriented, digitally competent, but not overwhelmed with technological progress societies to flourish, we must look after the whole process of educating and inspiring young people in the STEM area, from the primary school all the way through further education until positioning on the labour market, and answer the challenges related to creation of e.g. innovative, technology-based start-ups.
"Leaking pipeline". The Americans call this system of communicating vessels a “pipeline”". Sometimes the “pipeline” may be leaky and this we may lose potential talent at individual stages. This happens in the case of women. Their loss of interest in science education, their smaller participation less in engineering studies and less activity in professional careers in the STEM-related areas is a systemic problem – not just in Poland or USA, but all over the world.
How to support women in STEM? An important element of the STEM debate is a call to include girls and later women in this type of education and activity to larger extent. The traditional socialisation process causes them to often lose interest in scientific subjects quite early. But this can be counteracted and girls may be encouraged to take interest in these challenges. These efforts yield results, as proven e.g. by the experiences from the “Girls as Engineers!” campaign.
Science and technology need women. Only varied, balanced teams may create truly creative and new solutions. It is hard to talk about innovativity in a homogenous environment with only minimal participation of women (only 10% of professor in technological sciences and from few to about a dozen percent of technological companies’ employees are women). On the other hand, women need science and technology to take into account their needs and their point of view. They often solved problems important strictly to women. Without their active participation in creation of these solutions this will never be satisfactory.
The "Lean in STEM" conference is the first attempt in Poland to answer the question how (and why?) to support women in STEM. And why it is important to do so at all the available levels: citizen initiatives, state public policy in the area of education and social potential activation, and the strategy of socially responsible industry and business. We will also debate on the importance of STEM education and the need for its prioritisation in the state’s policy.
The event is part of the Lean in STEM projects.
Whom do we invite? We invite everyone who is interested in STEM and in supporting women/girls in this area, especially:
- women of science and technology
- representatives of the organisations and institutions supporting women in STEM
- representatives of companies from the technological industry interested in supporting women
- people active in the state’s public policies in the area of education an social potential activation
- school and academic teachers
- media representatives