The colloquium Women, Science and Technology held in Poitiers, France, from 27-28 January 2014, focussed on the diagnosis of gender issue at a regional scale and on the perspectives and impacts on practical experience from the national and European stakes. It was co-organised by French association Femmes & Sciences, a member of the European Platform of Women Scientists [EPWS].
On 27 January 2014, the colloquium, with an audience of 300 attendees, ended with the signature of the “Regional Convention for Equality between girls and boys, women and men in the all-life -long education system” by the different stakeholders, among whom the President of Poitou-Charentes region.
The programme for the second day consisted in a training for 150 persons, mostly staff of the National Education, from all over France. Several interesting local initiatives related to scientific and technical orientation of girls and boys, women and men, were described and discussed. In particular, the talks related to Physics and Europe were highlighted.
Rebecca Rogers made a parallel between scientific curricula for girls in France and in the United States at the end of the 19th century: at that time US girls would study more science than French girls. History shows that representations are country-dependent and can change!
The Europe session was introduced by a video talk of Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, who emphasised the importance of the colloquium topic for the European Union.
Claudine Hermann gave a talk on women scientists in Europe and stressed the effects of History and culture on their current situation. She discussed the actions of Directorate-General for Research and Innovation and of EPWS in favor of women scientists.
Anne Pépin described actions taken in the framework of European project INTEGER, which aims at structural changes in research institutions to improve women scientists’ careers and focuses on Mathematics and Physics Institutes of the French National Center for Scientific Research [CNRS].
Jean-Claude Crouzet and Catherine Thinus-Blanc showed how stereotypes can modify girls’ results in mathematics and science.
For Pierre Léna, president of La Main à la Pâte (Hands-On) Foundation, girls’ and boys’ attitudes towards science only differ for teenagers. He wonders whether the stereotypes about hard science could not be the projection of those about men and women in society. “To motivate young people for science we should question our way of teaching science and we should introduce” some soft science into hard science.
More information is available on the colloquium website.