On Saturday, 13 October, greenlight for girls Europe* organized its third annual Greenlight@Brussels Day at the International School of Brussels with the aim of encouraging girls to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”). Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012, a free event for 11-15 year old girls from the greater Brussels area, was attended by 250 girls who took part in over one hundred volunteer-run, hands-on workshops and activities aiming to show the fun behind science and technology.
Hundreds of inspiring experiments, workshops and Fun Lab activities
Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012 was a day-long, free event full of fun, hands-on workshops in French, Dutch and English, led by professionals — mostly women — from science, math, engineering and technology fields. Young girls who attended the event had the chance to participate in dozens of workshops on topics like “Cosmetic Chemistry,” “The Science of Digital Design” and “The Art of VJ-ing.“
Girls also got to enjoy an interactive Fun Lab where they experimented with the latest hi-tech gadgets and exciting science projects in areas such as plastics recycling, 3D printing and digital design.
When asked for their own feedback on the day, the consensus among the girls was that Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012 did a terrific job of encouraging girls to choose STEM subjects. And as lessons to their schools and teachers to encourage girls in math and science, their own suggestions included:
- ”promote fun and interesting ways for girls to learn”;
- “say that girls can do anything boys can do in math and science, and in any career out there”; and
- “host a greenlight for girls event”!
Promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics to girls of all ages
Recent research underscores that very few young Belgian women are interested in studying in STEM fields, especially computer science. But “digital skills are increasingly essential for jobs and careers across the board,” says Cheryl Miller, greenlight for girls European Director and organizer of Greenlight@Brussels Day. “It’s critical that we get more girls into these areas, and that we do everything we can to make them excited about studies and careers in STEM,” she adds.
Support from outstanding women in STEM
European Commissioners Neelie Kroes, VP of the Digital Agenda, and Màire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Innovation, Research & Science, shared messages with Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012 attendees, encouraging them to break the stereotype that science and technology are “just for boys”. Keynote speeches and mentoring moments during the day with Martine Tempels, Belgian ICT Woman of the Year in 2012, and Google Software Engineer Emily Soldal, helped to reinforce this message for the girls in real life.
“The girls at g4g had excellent questions and comments and took a real interest in the science demonstrated in the workshops,” says Ms. Soldal, Google Software Engineer, about Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012. “I can definitely see several of them becoming important leaders in their chosen fields,” she says. “It was an honour to be part of the g4g event, and I hope to return sometime soon,” she adds.
Support from the “Daisy-Chain”
Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012 is supported by professionals who volunteer their time to encourage girls to take up studies and careers in STEM areas. “Without the commitment and passion shown by these individuals and partner organizations – that we like to call the “daisy-chain network” – our events would not have the impact they do,” says Ms. Miller. “Girls keep coming back year after year, and over time, their study interests reflect a positive shift towards STEM subjects,” she adds.
An official part of European e-Skills Week 2012
Greenlight@Brusssels Day 2012 is part of e-Skills Week 2012, an initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate for Enterprise and Industry that promotes digital skills for employment. The event also actively supports the “Science : It’s a Girl Thing” campaign recently launched by the Commission’s Directorate for Innovation, Research & Science, which aims to increase the number of female researchers in Europe to one million by 2020.
Every Greenlight Girl Digital!
Thanks to support this year from Google and a host of other individuals and organizations, Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012 had a greater than usual focus on cultivating digital skills among girls. Fully half of the workshops and Fun Lab activities taught real digital skills girls can use in their daily lives, and inspired them to develop these skills. After participating in the “Art of Digital Music and Video-making” workshop, a 13 year old greenlight girl said she would like to study further in this area, and could definitely see herself becoming a “Computer Scientist” or “Software Designer” in the future.
greenlight for girls ASBL, a Brussels-based organization with a global mission
“In our first three years, greenlight for girls has run dozens of free events promoting STEM to girls around the world,” says Ms. Miller, a founding board member of greenlight for girls. “In this short time, we have reached thousands of girls with the message that ‘science is fun,’ and that with this knowledge ‘girls can save the world!‘“ So far in 2012, Greenlight activities have been carried out in Europe, Africa, North and South America, and Asia.
Digital Content by Greenlight Girls
To share in the content — digital designs, photos, music and visuals — generated by the girls themselves at Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012, be sure to join our Google+ page and a page created by the Greenlight News Team for the event.
greenlight for girls ASBL is an international not-for-profit organization promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) to girls of all ages and backgrounds, around the world. Greenlight@Brussels Day 2012, organized by “greenlight for girls Europe,”* is an official part of European e-Skills Week 2012.
*”greenlight for girls Europe” is an initiative of Belgian enterprise AWACA BVBA.