In the framework of the project “Local STEMspresso: Promoting Women in STEM to Youth from Youth” SCiDEV and the Network of Albanian Women in STEM organized three #STEMtalks, respectively in Shkoder, Pogradec and Durres. #STEMtalks are conceptualized as open discussions with young people on what is STEM, why is STEM important for development in general, benefits and challenges of STEM careers, etc. STEMtalks were delivered by Albanian women in STEM, members of the Network of Albanian Women in STEM.
For the first STEMtalk we went to Shkodër, and had the pleasure of having as guest speaker Prof. Asoc. Dr. Teuta Xhindi, a very well accomplished mathematician and member of Network of Albanian Women in STEM. Teuta focused mostly on the importance of STEM careers, while presenting data and arguments that supported her statement. For example, STEM employment rate is to increase by 8.8% until 2028, meanwhile other careers’ rate will only increase by 5%! She also spoke about gender inequality in health and the workplace. Did you know that standard temperature in offices takes into consideration only the male metabolism and it is a few degrees less than the ideal temperature for women, and cars are specifically designed for men, making it more likely for women to get seriously injured in an accident? These are just a few examples of biases that are present in design and manufacturing, and these examples further shed light on the absence of women in STEM, absence which in turn is represented during design and conception of everyday tools and items.
From Shkoder, we went to Pogradec, where Sidorela Uku, an Informatics Engineer, co-founder of Cloud68.co, and member of Open Labs Hackerspace Albania as well as Network of Albanian Women in STEM, spoke with young men and women. It was our pleasure to have her with us, as she was able to really inspire the participants/high schoolers through her own life experiences. Sidorela gave notable examples of triumphant women in science, such as Margaret Hamilton (software engineer who worked in the Apollo project for NASA) and Ada Lovelace (first woman programmer). Furthermore, she added famous Albanian women in STEM, for instance Mimoza Hafizi (Astrophysicist), Mira Mezini (Software Engineer), Laura Mersini-Houghton (Cosmologist), Fioralba Cakoni (Mathematician), Albana Topi (Physicist), and Sabiha Casimati (Biologist).
Finally, Prof. Dr. Anila Paparisto, biologist, and member of Netwok of Albanian Women in STEM, concluded our series of STEMtalks in Durrës. Anila focused mostly on engaging in conversation with the participants, because many of them were enthusiastic about biology, therefore the atmosphere was very friendly. Anila emphasized the importance of women in STEM and the most important message was to always follow your dreams and passion, no matter how hard it may seem.
This project is implemented by SCiDEV, with UNDP support in close partnership with Ministry of Health and Social Protection, as part of the UN Joint Programme “Ending Violence against Women in Albania”, funded by the Government of Sweden.