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EC targets increase in female scientists

'Science: it's a girl thing!' campaign to boost numbers of women researchers

'Science: it's a girl thing!' campaign

The European Commission (EC) has launched a campaign that aims to increase numbers of female scientists in the region.

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, announced the 'Women in Research and Innovation' campaign in Brussels, Belgium, which intends to challenge stereotypes and tackle the comparatively low levels of women researchers.

“Women remain largely under-represented in the science, technology and research fields in Europe, which means a huge waste of talent,” said the EC.

Using the slogan 'Science: it's a girl thing!', the first phase of the campaign will see the EC target girls aged 13 to 18, encouraging them to consider science as a potential career opportunity and study the subject in school.

The Commission is targeting this age group initially as it claims this is the time of a girl's life they veer away from science and technology subjects despite having roughly the same preference and ability in science and technology.

An increase in the number of female scientists is especially importance, considering Europe's plans to increase R&D spending to three per cent of GDP by 2020, meaning an extra 1m researchers are needed.

According to the EC, well over 50 per cent of all graduates in most subjects are female, however women only comprise 25.5 per cent of all graduates in engineering, manufacturing and construction and 40.2 per cent graduates in science, mathematics and computing.

Across the EU, women make up only about 32 per cent of career researchers as well.

The campaign is to be supported by both a website and a Facebook page.

These will include video profiles of female scientists (see video below); a quiz to determine what science career best suits an individual; facts and figures about the industry; and information about the variety of careers science offers.

Joanna Zmurko, a PhD candidate in virology - watch on YouTube

The initial pilot phase will involve events in six countries as a truck makes it way across Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland.

It will raise awareness of the campaign through scientific activities demonstrating the connection between science and music, cosmetics, food, fashion and more.

There will also be a 'Science Café' where schools can female researchers from the country, who will talk about their careers and the great opportunities for women.

22nd June 2012

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