A young person’s desire to drive diversity and inclusion in STEMM

Young person in STEMM

The importance of engaging the next generation in the equality and diversity debate is crucial and in preparation for STEMM Equality Congress 2018, 11 – 12 October, Amsterdam, we offered a young person a free delegate pass and the opportunity to display a poster about their work free of charge during the Congress.

The winner of our competition was Franziska Sattler and here Franziska talks about what drives her desire to make science a more welcoming, diverse and inclusive environment for everybody regardless of their heritage, sexual orientation or religious and political backgrounds.

Franziska Sattler is a Vertebrate Paleontologist and Evolutionary Biology Master alumna of Freie Universität Berlin, with a strong interest in Education, Women in STEM, Science Communication, Open Access and International Relations in Higher Education. Franziska is currently working on a T. rex at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and is the coordinator and advisor for Student Records at the International Office at FU Berlin.

www.franzisattler.com

 

When I decided to specialize in vertebrate paleontology during my undergraduate geology studies, I suddenly found myself alone in a department full of men. At the time, I was really proud to have made it this far, I felt really special for being the only woman during that year that chose to infiltrate the “boys club”. Later I began to question why none of the other young bright women I studied with had joined this specialism. Research suggests that even though they perform equally to their male peers, female students consistently report decreased self-confidence and increased anxiety, particularly over issues related to their competence[i]

It occurred to me that when women find themselves in a divided culture in which they are a minority, doubt rises and self-confidence takes a backseat. In my year, there were at least 40-50% women that studied Geology and most of them all ended up in a field that had a more equal gender split. Social factors such as gendered self-presentation and communication, rather than objective measures of ability, plays a large role in developing confidence[ii]. This realization sparked my desire to make science a more welcoming, diverse and inclusive environment for everybody regardless of their heritage, sexual orientation or religious and political backgrounds.

I have always been very interested in the power of social media and my most used platform is Twitter. I often do targeted online searches for current issues or opportunities and I connect with other women during meet ups or online discussions. This is also how I learnt about the STEMM Equality Congress in Berlin last year. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend but this year I again discovered the congress and got incredibly excited about it. I remembered how much I wanted to join this community and decided to take part in the ‘Young person in STEMM competition’.

I feel like I have done many things that will hopefully benefit my community, but I also want to address what I am still lacking as I am still at the beginning of my journey. I don’t possess a degree in Gender studies or political science. But what I have is passion.

I care deeply about the struggles of other scientists or those striving to be one and I want to learn tools to become a better communicator. The STEMM Equality Congress offers the possibility to connect with academics, policy makers and members of industry and learn from their expertise, struggles and advice.  I want to live my passion of making science more inclusive and diverse, communicating science at meet ups, conferences and outreach events and show young girls that anything is possible, if they only work hard enough. Attending the congress will certainly expose me to a wider audience of people with different backgrounds and the opportunity to network on an international scale, become better equipped to design and execute successful equality and diversity strategies and to form meaningful connections with likeminded people that share now only my views and hopes but also my passion.

Because I work in international relations in Higher Education, I am thrilled to listen to talks by Anne de Graaf (Best practice examples of organizational structural interventions to induce cultural change to achieve equality and diversity) and Prof. Archie Ervin (Identifying and addressing institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority and underrepresented staff and students). However, I am also a science educator and I am passionate about including as many girls in my work as possible, therefore I am also looking forward to learning from experts about Counteracting stereotypes at the earliest age possible: Schools’ efforts to address equality in STEMM subjects on day too. I have studied the agenda for longer than I want to admit and every time I find another interesting topic I want to learn more about, so choosing which panels I will attend will be extremely difficult.

All I know right now is that I am especially excited about the chance to network with these policy makers, academics and trailblazers in their field, make new memories and join the ranks of a group of truly passionate people!

 

You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Franziska here

 

 

[i] Blanch, D.C., Hall, J.A., Roter, D.L. and Frankel, R.M. (2008). Medical student gender and issues of confidence. Patient Education and Counseling 72: 374–381, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2008.05.021

 

[ii] Irani, L. (2004). Understanding gender and confidence in CS course culture. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin

36(1): 195–199, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/1028174.971371