Women & STEM: why is it important to talk about it?

Women & STEM: why is it important to talk about it?

Women & STEM: why is it important to talk about it?

Science-, Technology-, Engineering- and Maths professionals – especially women – are highly sought after these days. Currently there are 9300 open positions in this sector (only in Belgium!) and a number of companies are actively looking for women to strengthen their mostly male dominated teams.

In the academic year 2014-2015 only 1 in 4 Flemish students in higher STEM education was female. One reason for this imbalance between male and female students is the image of the STEM sector in general, the ICT sector in particular. However, Agoria indicates that choosing for a STEM education drastically increases your job opportunities: 94% of students with a STEM diploma find a job within one year after graduation.

Fortunately, STEM is getting traction in today’s vocabulary – academics, politicians, policy makers along with corporations, tech gurus and non-profits realized the alarming need for more engagement in these professions. An abundance of articles is published, PR campaigns and corporation-backed educational programmes are launched, all to spark interest with a good reason: in the era of high youth unemployment, orienting students – particularly girls – towards in-demand training is a foremost necessity.

Talking about STEM certainly helps in recognizing the problem and, most importantly, raises awareness. Following on that track, we are organising a TEDxGhentSalon dedicated to the topic “Women & STEM”. During this event, four true talents will help us to find the reason behind the underrepresentation of female professionals in the field.

Read about their background below and join us 12 April for an inspiring evening:

Martine Tempels is leading Telenet for Business and has more than 20 years of experience in the ICT sector. In February 2012 she was selected ‘ICT Woman of the Year’ by Data News. With this nomination Martine undertook an ambassador role in the ICT sector. She committed to reinforce existing initiatives to encourage young people and especially young women to choose an ICT career. Early 2012, Martine was invited as a member of the Flemish STEM platform of which she became president. This platform advises the Flemish Government on the execution of the STEM action plan which has as objective to maintain Flanders in the top economical regions of the world. In January 2013, she started CoderDojoBelgium (www.coderdojobelgium.be),  which is a club that learns kids between 6 and 18 how to code in a playful way.

Francis wyffels is a robotics researcher at the Data Science Lab of Ghent University. As a chair and co-founder of Dwengo (http://www.dwengo.org/), Francis inspires children, teachers and volunteers worldwide to tinker with electronics and coding.

Eva Degraeuwe is a medical student and entrepreneur at Ghent University. Together with other medical students, they launched the Emergency Volunteer Application (EVapp). EVapp is an smartphone application linked to emergency number 112 that finds CPR-trained volunteers in the neighborhood and mobilizes them to the scene of a heart attack to start CPR before the ambulance arrives, which could save thousands of lives in Belgium and millions around the world.

Karolien De Bosscher obtained her Ph.D degree at Ghent University on the molecular mechanisms of glucocorticoids in 2000. Following her Ph.D, worked on cancer research in the UK and coordinated nuclear receptor research at UGent. Since 2013 she is a full-time professor at the faculty of medicine of UGent. Every year, Karolien welcomes a group of students to her laboratory to introduce them to research. She will be taking us on the journey of “Science on the Move”, an initiative aimed at introducing scientific experiments to young children.

The talks are moderated by Fredo de Smet, a digital and media creative working for Sandbox Innovation at VRT. In Ghent, he is well-known for asking exactly the right questions during both the radio shows “how life works” and the live events of GentM (www.gentm.be).


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