Exploring the FeSTEM Project: The collaboration with Native Scientists
Author: Eirini Christou
The FeSTEM project
The Female Empowerment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Higher Education (FeSTEM) project was an Erasmus+ funded initiative that aimed to promote an innovative method and pedagogy that allows Higher Education (HE) students to use traditional and computationally-rich media to create meaningful, shareable exhibits that act as mentoring models for encouraging girls and women to remain active in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The FeSTEM approach made use of traditional and computationally rich media aiming to expose HE students to successful female role models in STEM, encouraging the development of networking opportunities for women and establishing a peer support system. Having students engaging as scientists in a creative, hands-on, and passionate endeavor allows them to spark their motivation to remain active in STEM - a motivation that is often extinguished by extrinsic goals, expectations in education settings, and workplaces. The main project outcomes included a gender-sensitive teaching methodology and an open-source online instrument for engaging HE students in producing shareable exhibits and promoting gender-equality issues. We also developed resources to illustrate how shareable exhibits can act as mentoring constructs for women in STEM, and a mentoring community platform for STEM HE students.
What FeSTEM meant for me
Native Scientists teamed up with FeSTEM to significantly widen participation and support of women in STEM. This joint effort enabled the project to reach a larger audience and provided more opportunities for growth and success. The powerful collaboration brought together two organizations with a shared vision to create a more diverse STEM landscape and created an environment that celebrates the accomplishments of women in STEM, encouraging them to progress and innovate in their respective fields. It's an exciting initiative with real and lasting changes! Follow their journey and support the campaign by using #FeSTEMNative #NativeScientists and #FeSTEM on your social media platforms.
Through this project, I was able to gain a greater insight into the STEM field, further developing my knowledge and understanding of gender equality. For me, the most important aspect of the project was the opportunity to collaborate with partners from all over Europe, which gave me invaluable experience in project management, international relations, and communication. I have organized virtual events, written papers, and attended numerous online meetings. Thanks to this experience, I learned how to effectively communicate and partner with people from different backgrounds and cultures, as well as how to manage projects remotely. Throughout the entire process, I was able to learn a great deal of new skills, build meaningful relationships with like-minded people, and gain a better understanding of how to manage European funded projects. Through the Native Scientist-FeSTEM collaboration, I was able to gain a deeper understanding about the challenges women face in STEM fields. I found that having women to look up to in the workplace and broader society can inspire and motivate others to reach their goals and aspire for higher positions. Furthermore, it can create a strong sense of support and camaraderie between female colleagues, which can help to foster a culture of inclusivity and gender equality.
The FeSTEM project is completed and I am proud to have been a part of it. Following up from it, I am now excited to be part of a new project called FemPower which again empowers women in STEM. More specifically, FemPower aims to increase female representation in the Clean Energy Transition (CET) sector, empowering and preparing those who are already active in academia or industry, and integrating a gender dimension in CET research and development. The team is highly dedicated to the mission, and I am honored to contribute to it.
Empowering women in STEM
As a female in STEM, it can be difficult to stay motivated and on track in pursuing a successful career. It is important to remember that despite the challenges, there are many others with similar experiences who overcame these hurdles and pursued their dreams. It is critical to stay focused and keep pushing to reach your goals, without forgetting to be kind to yourself and to reach out for help when needed. There are a variety of resources available to help young women in STEM, such as mentorship programmes, scholarships, and networking events. The FeSTEM project has also created the FeSTEM Community Platform that aims to link Higher Education (HE) students in STEM with experienced mentors in the field. The platform expects to provide HE students (both male and female) with practical advice on how to deal with difficulties in their personal and professional life to overcome the glass-ceiling effect and promote gender equality.