MINT compartments attractive for girls and women

Frauen für MINT-Studiengänge gewinnen: Frauen können in Wissenschaft und Forschung viel bewirken. Bild: PantherMedia / Hugo Felix

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MINT compartments are becoming increasingly interesting for girls and women. Girls are just as good as boys in subjects like math, chemistry and physics. They have an enormous amount of potential – but don’t always build on it after school. Unfortunately, this means that all their talent often goes unused. At the same time, the demand for graduates in the fields of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology (MINT) is greater than ever. In the future, however, girls and women should definitely play a decisive role there – this was reminded by the “International Day of Women and Girls in Science”.

Discovering new species as a biologist, fighting air pollution as an engineer, exploring black holes as a physicist or developing innovative IT systems based on artificial intelligence as a computer scientist – women can make history as scientists if they want to. Many are talented and actually predestined for a STEM career, but often don’t have the confidence to study the subject and end up studying something else. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) wants to counteract this and is therefore repeatedly trying to inspire girls and women to take up STEM courses and professions.

More women in top positions

“In order to successfully meet the major challenges of our time – from pandemics to climate change – we need to make full use of our potential,” explains Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. “We need more women in top positions in science and research in the 21st century. I still see room for improvement here,” she adds.

The Federal Ministry of Research has already done a lot to encourage girls and women to choose STEM courses and scientific and technical professions. One example is the federal and state program for female professors. This has made a significant contribution to sustainably increasing the number of female professors at universities in Germany, he said. “I am pleased that their share has thus increased from around 16 percent in 2007 to almost 25 percent,” says Karliczek.

Success with MINT – New opportunities for women

With the funding priority “Innovative Women in Focus,” the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is providing 41 million euros through 2026 to support research projects as well as implementation and continuation measures that further increase the visibility of women, their achievements and their potential in science, innovation and society. “Young women will thus be given effective, new role models in the public eye that will support them in making a career choice based on their talents, irrespective of traditional role clichés,” explained the Federal Research Minister. This is the only way to attract the best talents to solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

This is precisely what the funding priority “Success with MINT – New Opportunities for Women” will continue to support – together with over 360 partners in the National Pact for Women in MINT Professions (“Komm, mach MINT)”. The goal is to promote the potential of the young, well-educated generation of women for promising careers in the MINT field. This also applies to the wide range of activities on “Girls’ Day,” which is held every year to inspire female students to consider courses of study and careers in STEM fields. In 2021, it will take place on April 22.

MINT education outside schools as well

The BMBF recently launched a second round of competition for regional STEM clusters. Until April 26, 2021, STEM associations in association with other partners such as student laboratories and student research centers, children’s and youth education organizations, companies, universities or municipalities and districts can submit their ideas to further improve out-of-school STEM education opportunities for students. According to Karliczek, extracurricular learning venues are an excellent supplement to school lessons to get young people excited about mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology. “The 22 STEM clusters already launched in the first grant enable ten- to 16-year-old students to do research, experiment in labs or mobile makerspaces, try out 3-D printing or learn coding.”

Brigitta Wenninger