BCAM supports the INSPIRA project to promote STEM education among young girls
Amaia Abanda, a researcher from the Basque Center for Applied Mathematics, collaborates as a mentor in this initiative promoted by the University of Deusto
The number of students that choose scientific or technological studies is dropping every year, with a decrease that is even larger among girls: even though 54,3% of the students in the Spanish University System are women, their presence in STEM degrees amounts only to 26,4%.
INSPIRA is a project that was born by the urgent need to promote scientific and technological degrees among Basque students, especially among girls. Its goal is to encourage young students to pursue STEM degrees by raising awareness of the situation and by providing guidance sessions from professional women in the area of research, science or technology. The initiative is promoted by the University of Deusto in collaboration with Innobasque and the Elhuyar Foundation and financed by the Regional Governments of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, and BBK.
More than 100 volunteer women are giving mentoring sessions in schools in Araba, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa in order to raise awareness around gender stereotypes and occupation. The main purpose is to make young girls reflect on prejudices by bringing science closer to them and by giving visibility to the important duty scientist women have had throughout history. The program also aims to provide them with a close female referent working in these areas.
In line with BCAM’s strong commitment to the promotion of scientific vocations among young girls and boys, the center signed a partnership agreement with the project last June and has joined the INSPIRA MANIFEST to actively work towards gender equality in scientific and technological careers. As part of this collaboration BCAM researcher Amaia Abanda has been working as a mentor for young girls during the second edition of INSPIRA, giving 6 mentoring sessions to girls from Bilbao’s La Salle school.
Amaia graduated in Mathematics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and has a Master in Computational Engineering and Intelligent Systems from the University of the Basque Country. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Data Science at the Basque Center for Applied Mathematics’ Machine Learning department. Regarding her time as a mentor as part of INSPIRA she says the experience was “extremely gratifying” and that the students “really enjoyed learning”.