As part of the International Girls in ICT Day, the Gender Equality Policies area of EUROsociAL+, coordinated by Expertise France, interviewed Andrea Giraldo Sevilla, an expert conducting a project to promote access to science and technology to girls and adolescents with the government of Uruguay and the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation (AUCI).
Please explain the project you are working on with the Uruguayan government and its objective.
The project that I am carrying out with the Government of Uruguay is called “Continuity and development of the activities foreseen in the Comprehensive Plan for the promotion of the accessibility of girls and adolescents to training in Science and Technology”. We are working hand in hand with the National Agency for Public Education (ANEP) as well as two national experts, Patricia Píriz (ANEP) and Lourdes Chiriff (ANEP-UTU). We also have the valuable support of Viviana Mezzetta from the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation (AUCI) and other key projects in Uruguay in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Gender.
The objective of the project is to give continuity to the Comprehensive Plan for the promotion of the of girls and adolescents’ accessibility to training in Science and Technology initially conceived through the actions carried out between 2020-2022, and to establish the strategies, actions and guidelines for the remaining two years (2022-2024).
With this plan, we want to promote the participation of girls and adolescents in training in science and technology, to give guidance to these girls while providing the necessary resources and, finally, give guidelines for the co-creation of sensitised ecosystems to guide and motivate teachers and families to participate in the formal and informal education of girls and adolescents.
How does it fit into Uruguay’s national strategy?
This project meets the crucial need to give continuity to the comprehensive plan through the following activities: developing the strategy for motivating families and teachers, creating a toolkit in STEM-Gender, strengthening teacher training in Innovative pedagogical strategies to stimulate training and protect the trajectory of girls and adolescents with a gender perspective, and developing a work strategy with the business and labour communities linked to the STEM area: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The Plan is now being implemented under the Educational Development Plan 2020-2024 with the active participation of the entire ANEP. This Accessibility Plan is part of a line of educational policy and an instrument for use in the educational trajectory understood as a process that begins in the first school stage and that has impacts on the construction of the professional technical profile and on women’s future integration in employment. This is key to achieving autonomy and access to rights under equal conditions.
It should be considered that, in the current context of transformations regarding the world of employment, the supply of labour in STEM areas is more than attractive given the demand for professional and technical personnel qualified in STEM. This project seeks to create solutions to the gaps identified by the statistical data, both in education and in the labour market.
This project seeks not only to promote and make STEM training more attractive, but also to provide pedagogical, orientation and self-affirmation strategies, as well as to create tools and a support community so that these girls acquire the necessary interpersonal, technical and orientation skills in formal and informal ecosystems made aware (through this project) and unaware (by the current reality).
What stage of the study have you reached and what are the next steps?
We have finished the first major stage of research and analysis of needs with the team of national experts, who, being aware, will be continually fed during subsequent stages. We are finishing the stage of identifying gaps between primary, secondary and EFTP education correlated to the needs of the labour sector, including research, and higher education.
This stage has come up with multiple initiatives by communities of women and allies who make their contributions on different scales. They work mainly by vocation and in non-formal education, that is, extra-curricular education, so much of the work required after the project would have to focus on how to recognise and validate that acquired knowledge.
Likewise, we have verified the need to create intersector and intersectional working groups to co-create solutions to common challenges beyond specific events (create and facilitate work communities) in order to join forces and have a joint vision. To conclude, we note the need for pedagogical resources, teaching guidance, interdisciplinary approaches and work with children and adolescents on positive masculinity, as well as joint work between girls, boys and adolescents.
The next steps will focus on the design of two connected strategies: the teacher training and orientation strategy as well as the awareness and family training strategy with the ultimate goal of co-creating formal and informal learning ecosystems to guide and motivate girls and teenagers.
Among our main, innovative inputs to the project, we will create a framework of fundamental competencies for girls and adolescents in STEM and a framework of fundamental and specific competencies for inclusive STEM teachers. The two frameworks of competencies contextualised to the needs of Uruguay. Finally, we will co-create pedagogical strategies with the different sectors, pool resources and adapt the Hypatia toolkit to the needs of Uruguay, and, above all, move from heterogeneous networks to working groups to co-develop an action plan to steer the existing initiatives towards the same goals.
Interview conducted by Marisol Dextre Polo, communication expert in the Gender Equality Policies area