Grants and programs for female inclusion
A recent study into the fields of technology and science in Spain shows a worrying outlook for women: at a time when there are more female students attending public universities (54%), the number goes down when referring to the number of theses read (50%), practicing female scientists (39%), executives and professors (21% at the public level and 43% in the private sector).
In this regard, it is surprising that there is only one woman leading 1 of the 7 public investigation bodies of the Spanish Government. Her name is Rosa Menéndez, and she is President of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).
According to percentages gathered by the UNESCO study “Women in Science”, women, like in many other fields, struggle in the face of problems related to gender inequality (many of them structural and the others related to the death throes of the economic crisis). That being said, it is not a bad result in comparison with the EU average, which indicates only 33% of students are female. At a global level, the number is somewhere around 30%, according to UNESCO. And based on the study “Female Scientists in Numbers” carried out by the Ministry of Economy, this figure has been static since 2009, indicating that there is still a long way to go.
Bearing in mind that gender equality in the fields of science and technology is one of the most important challenges Spanish society faces (and the world in general, as the United Nations points out in its 2030 agenda for sustainable development), there are different public and private organizations which award grants to increase the presence of women in these fields, which currently produce a significant number of jobs. Undoubtedly, it represents a key field to help shape the value-added economy. For example:
For Women in Science from L’Oréal and UNESCO
The longest standing program was created by L’Oréal Corporate Foundation and UNESCO in 1998, this year celebrating its 20th Anniversary. They recognize every year the labour carried out by five prominent female investigators from 5 different places in the world that have contributed prominently to scientific progress. Since the beginning of the program, L’Oréal-UNESCO Prizes have distinguished 100 women: two of them were later awarded the Nobel Prize.
In Spain, the program has developed multiple ideas to highlight the contribution of women in science and promote the vocation for future generations. Among the most remarkable are the Scientific-Research Grants, which every year awards 5 young female scientists with 5 grants valued at 15,000€ to help develop their research projects.
Women’s Talent Grants from Banco Santander
The second edition of the program of grants is Banco Santander’s Women’s Talent grant (whose deadline for submission ends in October) which awards women who wish to pursue masters and postgraduate degrees in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with 25 financial grants and educational internships at the bank.
The goal is to actively promote the development of female talent and facilitate integration into the labour market. A commission will consider and assess the professional experience of every applicant, her academic background, as well as English level. Those who are awarded the grant will receive 75% of the price of the degree, up to 5,000€.
Mothers of Science, from the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology
The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) started their “Mothers of Science” grant program at the end of last year aiming to turn around disconcerting data: of 41% female scientists, only 15% were project managers. From there, starting in their first edition they awarded 10 grants of 400€ monthly during a full year, an amount of around 50,000€.
This goal of the project is aimed at lending assistance to female scientists with children competing for a leading scientific position. This way, they can pay for babysitting or business travel, for example, in order to go ahead with their research more easily. Also, Empowering Women in Science (BIST) has set up a network of guides aimed at facilitating contact between junior female researchers and prominent female scientists so that they can work together on their professional development.
Women Techmakers Scholars, from Google
The digital giant founded this grants program aimed at promoting female presence in ICTs, inspired by the ideas of Doctor Anita Borg, a pioneering woman in the fight for gender equality in the fields of computer and new technologies.
The grant winners (the deadline for this edition has ended) will receive 7,000€ towards an academic degree or a post-grad in computer science, computer engineering or any other technology related field. To do so, the applicants selected should have an exceptional academic background and show leadership skills and passion for the goal of increasing female presence in the world of technology.
European Project Hypatia, with the presence of FECYT
This case has nothing to do with grants, but is rather a European Project aimed at encouraging 13 to 18 year old young women pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in educative centres and later in their academic lives. In Spain, while the number of women pursuing science degrees is 51% of the total number of students, unfortunately this number decreases to 25% when referring to female students studying engineering and architecture.
Likewise, the program promotes the participation of educative centres, museums, research institutions and mass media in the STEM model from a female inclusive perspective. One of the high points of Hypatia, in which the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) takes part, is the creation of national “hubs” within the 15 countries participating in the project in order to strengthen the interaction of each and every one of the interested parties.