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STEM: there is still work to be done on gender equality

The female population is underrepresented in many of the activities carried out at technical universities. This is also the case at the Politecnico di Milano, where women represent less than 30% of its 47,000 students and 1,400 researchers. The discrepancy is big, however, if we look closer, we can see an even greater imbalance among all engineering students, where only 1 in 4 is female.

If we focus in further still, the figure falls to 20% in the case of some courses such as Mechanical, Electronic, Computer and Aerospace Engineering. 

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THE POLITECNICO’S ACTIONS FOR GENDER EQUALITY

POP – Pari Opportunità Politecniche programme (Polytechnic Equal Opportunities) is the strategic programme through which the University is committed to guaranteeing an environment for studying and working that respects gender identity, and different abilities, cultures and origins. Within it, there are various initiatives to promote STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) among girls in upper schools and incentivise them to enrol at Politecnico di Milano. Girls@Polimi scholarships, for example, funds academic scholarships for future students enrolling on engineering courses with a low percentage of females (mechanics, electronics and computing), which offer successful candidates € 8000 euros each, for each of the three years of the degree, in addition to free accommodation. 

Discover more about Girls@Polimi

“Awareness of gender diversity is a first step, which must be followed by concrete action not only within our universities, but at the wider level and in the international context. Building networks and supporting common causes increases our ability to influence decision makers”

comments vice rector Donatella Sciuto, stressing the international and systematic aspects of this imbalance.

To this end, to guide the actions that need to be undertaken, we have written two working instruments: the first is Gender Balance, an annual analysis of the University from the perspective of gender in academic programmes and work, among teaching and technical-administrative staff. It sets out objectives, tools and directions; the specific plan of action to be undertaken, over a three-year period, is described in the Gender Equality Plan: “we have set aside a specific budget”, says the rector’s office, with the objective of “recognising the dignity of every person in their work and studies, guaranteeing equality of treatment, promoting initiatives aimed at removing discrimination in training, access to jobs, orientation and during careers. 

Read the Gender budget and Gender equality plan

What you are reading is an article from the latest issue of the Magazine of the Alumni of the Politecnico di Milano. (read it here). MAP is one of the many initiatives created by Alumni Politecnico di Milano. If you want to receive two issues of the magazine in paper format, consider donating..

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ENHANCE: Politecnico for gender equality and diversity

"Awareness of the gender gap is a first step that must be followed by concrete actions not only within our universities, but also in a global context. The importance of building networks, like ENHANCE, and joining common causes increases our ability to influence decision makers "

Pro-rector Donatella Sciuto comments on the result of the first annual report on diversity and gender equality within ENHANCE , the alliance formed in starting from 2020 from 7 universities of excellence (including Politecnico) that wishes to promote gender equality and diversity within higher education institutions.

You can read the report here. The reports highlights the potential of the universities involved in making academic opportunities accessible to all and promoting inclusion and equal opportunities as main values in their strategies.

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Credits: Martin Braun

ENHANCE'S GOALS

There are three main objectives of the report, which allow to identify the common challenges to be faced and to monitor the improvements brought about by the implemented actions:

  1. encourage and support students and young female researchers with fewer opportunities to successfully undertake and complete a STEM degree program, as well as to participate in mobility projects;
  2. offer empowerment tools to under-represented and disadvantaged groups;
  3. develop training resources related to diversity and gender equality to be used in higher education institutions, promoting awareness of these issues.

“Although the female population is under-represented in many of the activities carried out at our universities, the ENHANCE initiatives have achieved noteworthy gender parity, with 54% male participation and 46% female participation”.

explains Melih Özkardes, who coordinates the working group dedicated to Diversity and Gender Equality within ENHANCE. And he adds:

"Awareness of diversity and gender equality in a group increases the chances of developing innovative ideas and allows you to work in a climate of greater well-being".

POLITECNICO'S INITIATIVES

In order to learn about, cultivate and enhance the diversity of the polytechnic community, the University in recent years has developed various initiatives that are fully integrated into the vision supported by Enhance.

Among these, there is the POP - Pari Politecnico Opportunities , the strategic program with which the Politecnico di Milano is committed to guaranteeing a study and work environment that respects gender identities, different abilities, cultures and backgrounds. The POP program is developed along 5 strategic lines of action : gender identity, culture, nation and religion, sexual orientation, different abilities and psychological well-being.

Within the POP, there are also initiatives to promote STEM subjects among high school girls , such as Girls @ Polimi , scholarships for future students enrolled in engineering courses with low percentage of women (Mechanics, Electronics and Computer Science), which make 8000 euros available to deserving candidates each, repeatable for the three years of the degree , in addition to free accommodation.

EnginHERing is aimed instead to high school students, to bring female students closer to the choice of engineering faculty through the passionate words and experiences of female students , researchers and Alumnae of the Polytechnic tell us about the still little explored reality of engineers.

You too can support the Girls @ Polimi scholarships with a donation starting from 10 euros. Click here .

Credits header e home: Martin Braun