Hands-on Workshop Think Pink-Hard Hat Challenge

© UNESCO/ Invited young women at the hands-on workshop

On the occasion of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, UNESCO jointly organized with WomEng (Women in Engineering), a non-profit organization working to develop the next generation of engineering leaders in society, a hands-on workshop entitled “Think Pink-Hard Hat Challenge” that took place at UNESCO’s Foyer II on 9 February 2017 from 12pm to 2pm.

The workshop was addressed to 50 young women and school learners, all aged between 13 and 17 years old. Its aim was to encourage them more to consider careers in STEM, especially engineering, and to remove the daunting preconceptions of such careers.

This hands-on activity was a pre-launch of the Million Girls in STEM campaign, which will be launched at the 61st edition of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on 13 March 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The campaign’s objective is to mobilize 1 million young women through STEM education and outreach initiatives in at least 10 different regions of the world, over the next 10 years.

The workshop also focused on the position of women in engineering and the role of engineering education therein. Knowing that around the world we have around 50% of young women in biological sciences but only around 20% in engineering, it underlined the need for young women to initiate careers in engineering as well.

This activity started with welcoming remarks given by Mr Douglas Nakashima, Chief of the Small Islands and Indigenous Knowledge Section within the Natural Sciences Sector and
Ms Rovani Sigamoney, Responsible of the Engineering Programme within the Natural Sciences Sector. These remarks were followed by a lecture given by Ms Hema Vallabh, Co-founder of WomEng, who interacted with the invited girls and triggered their attention on the importance of having women engineers.

An opportunity was given to the invited young women to express their ideas on customizable pink hard hats by coloring, writing and decorating them each differently. The message behind this activity was to demonstrate to these girls that each created hard hat is distinctive, thus, each girl has unique ambitions and perspectives for future careers in STEM.

Finally, a couple of randomly selected girls presented their hard hat and its meaning in front of the whole group of participants as well as teachers. The outcomes of the hands-on activity were very positive and interesting. The invited young women realized that engineering is also an activity for women, which is fun, exciting, hands-on and consists of working together as a team in order to come up with sustainable and innovative solutions for future challenges. We were pleased in having them participating and interested in becoming our next generation of young women in STEM.

© UNESCO/ Invited young women at the hands-on workshop

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