SHE is SCIENCE, a large-scale essay competition about female scientists for girls aged 14 to 21, announced 12 winners in Ukraine.
In their essays, the authors chose one of the 12 outstanding Ukrainian scientists, the heroines of the educational project SHE is SCIENCE organized by STEM is FEM, described their activities, and reflected on their impact on science and the modern world as a whole. Sapar Karyagdyyev, a co-founder of the charitable initiative STEM is FEM, head of Gamingtec, spoke about how media entertainment helps curators popularize the competition and the project.
The essay competition by SHE is SCIENCE lasted from February to March. In total, the organizers of the social and educational project STEM is FEM received 563 written works.
‘The expert jury consisted of experienced media representatives and scientists: the editor-in-chief of Wonderzine Ukraine Anna Khaietska, biologist and member of the STEM is FEM expert council Olha Maslova, writer and lawyer Larysa Denysenko, journalist and host of Freedom of Speech on ICTV Vadym Karpiak, blogger Tatusya Bo (Tetiana Komlyk), and psychotherapist and the first editor-in-chief of Vogue Ukraine Masha Tsukanova,’ said Sapar Karyagdyyev.
On June 10, there will be a solemn awarding ceremony for the 12 competition finalists in Kyiv. One of them will get the Grand Prix—$4,000 for education. In addition, there will be a charity auction at the event.
‘There will be many things, but the main lots will be non-fungible tokens. Twelve NFT portraits created as part of the project will fall under the gavel, and the proceeds will be added to the Grand Prix to widen the choice of educational options for the winner,’ said Sapar Karyagdyyev.
The event will be broadcast on the official STEM is FEM page on Facebook.
The competition is part of a large-scale educational project SHE is SCIENCE, which started in Ukraine in February 2021. The ambitious goal of the project is to free science from gender bias. The initiative is a tribute to 12 prominent Ukrainian female scientists—mathematicians, physicists, geneticists, and biologists. With their example, the charity educational project STEM is FEM shows that achieving success in science is possible regardless of the gender of the scientist.
‘It is always better to provide a good example than trying to theoretically explain that both men and women can do science on an equal basis. That is why we have chosen twelve women—outstanding representatives of various branches of Ukrainian science,’ said Karyagdyyev.
As the first part of the project, the organizers created an art collection of twelve illustrations portraying prominent female scientists.
‘To implement this part, we have chosen young progressive Ukrainian illustrators. The headliner is Serhiy Maidukov, an illustrator known for collaborating with The New Yorker, Washington Post, and other major news platforms. We have chosen such authors and illustration style since our main audience is young people and teenagers in particular. Soon, they will have to choose their careers and build a new society free from gender bias,’ said Sapar Karyagdyyev.
According to STEM is FEM, this approach made it possible to creatively promote the project among the young population.
‘Then, we used media entertainment, a format that is currently quite fashionable in modern media. Internet news platforms supported our initiative and used our illustrations to create quizzes on the knowledge about Ukrainian female scientists, conduct online broadcasts, record podcasts with the heroines of the project, and so on,’ said Karygdyyev.
STEM is FEM is a social educational project aimed at combating gender stereotypes in technical and scientific fields and motivating Ukrainian schoolgirls to choose STEM specialties (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). As part of the initiative, various kinds of educational and motivational events for Ukrainian schoolgirls are also held: webinars, workshops, meetings with scientists, and regular educational modules. During the modules, the girls deeply examine and study one of the STEM specialties for two days.
‘In less than two years, we have already conducted 10 modules. We have introduced the girls to robotics, IT, pharmaceuticals, mechanical engineering, architecture, and other specialties. We decided to use the accumulated experience of interacting with scientists and information warfare against gender bias to implement a larger-scale project, and this is how we got the idea of SHE is SCIENCE,’ said Sapar Karyagdyyev.
The SHE is SCIENCE project was created with the support of the international organizations UN Women in Ukraine and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine. The project is part of the UN Women global campaign “Generation of Equality.”