5 min

INRAE encourages young women to embrace careers in science

On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, INRAE is highlighting the actions carried out by its work force to promote science and enhance the value of scientific careers for young women.

Published on 10 February 2023

illustration INRAE encourages young women to embrace careers in science

Although women have made great strides in higher education, they remain underrepresented in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) around the world. Prejudices, social norms and expectations that affect the quality of their education and the subjects they study still hold girls and women back. If they are informed at key stages in their studies and career choices, women can be encouraged to launch out into the world of science in a professional capacity.

INRAE is fully committed to the issue of professional equality between women and men, and is working to counter resistance to change by relying in particular on the essential levers of awareness-raising, training and communication. The Institute’s actions include national and regional schemes all around France.

Mentoring, awareness-raising and initiation in the Occitanie region

Several scientists from the INRAE Occitanie-Montpellier research centre are involved in the mentoring programme for female PhD students of the association "Women & Science", of which INRAE is a member. The annual workshop about careers in engineering, with testimonies from women engineers, helps to raise awareness of the profession and promote it among female PhD students, who are potential candidates for INRAE's recruitment competitions.

Female researchers and engineers also regularly take part in workshops presenting research careers in secondary schools in Montpellier and the surrounding area, or in workshops to raise awareness of gender stereotypes.

Several research units are also involved in the Apprentice Researchers programme, coordinated by L'Arbre des Connaissances. The aim of this association is to introduce a mixed pair (boy/girl) of secondary school students to careers in scientific research.

Immersion, awareness and the fight against self-censorship in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region

On 28 February, employees of INRAE’s Clermont-Ferrand site, in collaboration with the University of Clermont-Ferrand, will take part in the first day of immersion of high school students in research laboratories. This day is intended for students in their second year of secondary school.

The aim is to break down gender stereotypes, help women resist the tendency toward self-censorship, and encourage meetings with professionals.

STEM will be in the spotlight: in the morning, girls and boys will follow different workshops dedicated to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. In the afternoon, girls will participate in an event led by women scientists (technicians, engineers, researchers, PhD students, students) to promote and popularise science, while boys will take part in activities to raise awareness about gender stereotypes.

Network-building, orientation and promoting scientific vocations in Brittany and Normandy

In December 2022, INRAE’s Brittany-Normandy research centre took part in the second edition of the "Elles bougent pour l'orientation" event organised by the "Elles bougent" association. This day was an opportunity to get young girls thinking out possible future careers in science. An INRAE engineer spoke at the Victor and Hélène Basch high school in Rennes (Brittany) to about a hundred students from the second to the final year of secondary school, to raise awareness about scientific and engineering careers and the role women play in them.

Discovery, inspiration and raising awareness in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region  

On the occasion of the Fête de la Science 2022, INRAE set up a stand dedicated to women scientists within the framework of an event organised by "Women & Science".
The initiative featured the board game Mendeleieva. Through 135 contemporary or historical female figures, this game allowed players to discover different disciplines, professions or research subjects related to science.
Some 40 people took part in the exercise, often with their families. It helped them become more aware of their own stereotypes, the better to overcome them.

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Fabienne Girouxtranslated by Inge Laino

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