The project “Engenheiras por um dia, para o resto da vida” was presented this Tuesday, October 10, at Centro Ciência Viva in Coimbra. This project is developed by the Portuguese government and Técnico will play a leading role: to inspire girls to study engineering. The Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality, the Portuguese Association of Women’s Studies, IBM, Siemens and Microsoft are also partners of this project.
According to the Deputy Minister Eduardo Cabrita, who attended this session, the first step towards equality was taken. A protocol of cooperation involving ten public schools from around the country (Porto, Matosinhos, Fundão, Figueira da Foz, Miranda do Corvo, Pombal, Vila Franca de Xira, Évora and Seixal) was signed. These schools will be visited by Técnico students who will share their experience and enthusiasm for engineering. Schools will then develop activities throughout the year, such as lectures, visits to companies and universities, thus promoting the contact with engineering students.
Professor Palmira Silva, vice-president for Communication and Image at Técnico, presented the project “Engenheiras por um dia”. Visibly thrilled about the role that Técnico will play in this project, the vice-president explained that the main goal of this initiative is “to eliminate stereotypes and prejudices in tech jobs”, by “raising awareness of this segregation problem in schools” . According to professor Palmira Silva “gender balance is a fundamental issue for citizenship”. It’s expected that “this project will bear fruit soon, with more women attending engineering courses”.
According to Eduardo Cabrita, promoting gender balance is one of the priorities of the government. “Women still face many barriers to reach the top of some careers”, he declared. “What we are doing here is very important. Female students aged 14 -16 keep away from engineering so we must start taking action to prevent this from happening”, he added.
From 2013 to 2016 the percentage of female students enrolled in engineering courses “stood at around 19%”. If we remove from this list Chemical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering – which attract a larger number of Female students – the percentage falls to 15%.