Equit@T awards will open on 28 April, International Girls in ICT Day (photo: John Schnobrich / unsplash.com)
Joan Antoni Guerrero and Rubén Permuy
The Equit@T award is funded by the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation and is linked to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science
The award has four categories: three are aimed at school pupils and one at adults
The faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) has announced the international Equit@T video awards in the field of gender and technology. The award, which has four categories, is aimed at school pupils and adults, and it seeks to encourage women to study STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The award is funded by the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI), through its call for grants to encourage science in Catalonia, and it is linked to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which is celebrated on 11 February each year.
Entries must consist of videos lasting between thirty seconds and two minutes. There is one category for secondary school students (divided into three sub-categories) and another for adults. Entries can be in Catalan, Spanish, Basque or Galician, with the exception of one of the secondary school student sub-categories which is exclusively for entries in Catalan.
In the first sub-category, secondary school students can submit a video to be shared on social media, for example on TikTok or Instagram. In the second sub-category, female secondary school students can submit a science communication video; it should last no longer than two minutes, be suitable for sharing on social media, and explain a scientific/technical concept. In the third sub-category, sponsored jointly by the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation, female secondary school students can submit a Catalan language science communication video.
The competition will open on 28 April, International Girls in ICT Day. The closing date for entries is 15 November 2022. Each winning video will be awarded 1,000 euros.
Daniel Riera, Director of the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications and researcher with the Internet Computing & Systems Optimization (ICSO) group –at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3)–, emphasised the need for this type of initiative, because "scientific studies show that during adolescence, the interest girls have shown in science and technical studies disappears". He pointed out that "many reasons for this have been identified". These include "the lack of role models, negative comments by those around them and the greater demands girls make of themselves, which lead them to believe that they are worse at science, when they are really better," he added.
This is why, he said, "there comes a point when girls' interest in STEM careers falls away". "A lot of work is being done to address all these issues", he added, stressing that the Equit@T Award "is aimed at getting children and young people to think about this issue, and making them understand that they have the freedom and skills to study whatever they like. We also want to create a channel that allows young people who are at the point of deciding their careers to talk to children and explain the issues to them at first hand".
An award in line with the UOC's Equality Plan
Maria Antonia Huertas, a professor and researcher in the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications and researcher with the Technology-Enhanced knowledge and interaction group (TEKING), pointed out that "when it comes to choosing whether to study science or technology, the gender gap starts when boys and girls begin to identify with gender stereotypes, especially after the age of twelve". She believes that the Equit@T short video awards "will help secondary school pupils to reflect on this situation in their own language and in a way that is meaningful to them".
"The gender diagnosis carried out at the UOC shows us that 90 % of those enrolling for some technology subjects were men". The Equit@T award is in line with the University's Equality Plan as it helps to lower this level of horizontal segregation in the student body and encourages more women to enrol in technological fields", argued Maria Olivella, coordinator of the UOC's Equality Unit. "This award will contribute to this at an earlier stage, i.e. in secondary education, which is a crucial time for personal and academic development".
Pastora Martínez, UOC vice president for Globalization and Cooperation, noted that "women must be encouraged to participate in STEM professions throughout their lives. If young girls and teenagers are not interested in science and technology at school, it is unlikely they will choose to study them at university". She is very pleased with the importance of initiatives such as the Equi@T award in "stimulating interest in STEM careers before girls go to university, as this is when we can bring about positive change".
Milagros Sáinz, lead researcher of the Gender and ICT group (GenTIC), at the UOC's IN3, argued that "we have to get away from the gender stereotypes that girls are not as good at maths, or less interested in studying STEM subjects". The GenTIC researchers have studied this issue, and shown that exposing girls to examples of successful women working in STEM fields immunizes society against these gender stereotypes.
This research at the UOC promotes Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4: Quality Education, 5: Gender Equality and 10: Reduce Inequalities.
The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century, by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health.
The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: research.uoc.edu #UOC25years
Coordinator of the UOC's Equality Unit
Pastora Martínez Samper
Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation
Expert in: Management and assessment of research, responsible research and innovation, and open science.
Knowledge area: Political science.