Science camp for high schoolers to cultivate future female scientists
To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11th), National Sun Yat-sen University worked together with the Ministry of Science and Technology and China Steel Corporation Group Education Foundation to organize a visit to laboratories led by female scientists at the University for over 180 female high school students. The girls visited 20 laboratories at the University researching such fields as physics, chemistry, astronomy (research on black holes), marine sciences, material science, and information and communication technologies. They had hands-on experience with AI, 5G, semiconductors, biotechnology, food safety, and natural marine products. The camp aimed at popularizing STEM fields through diverse points of view to help participants learn the science of daily life. Senior Vice President of NSYSU Shiow-Fon Tsay pointed out that she hopes to inspire more girls to believe in themselves and pursue their interests in science to then contribute to scientific development.
As the PI of the project of the Ministry of Science and Technology for the cultivation of female scientists in STEM fields, Professor of the Department of Physics and Senior Vice President of the University, Tsay said that in Taiwan, only around 30% of science-related jobs are filled by women. She said that this stems from the long-standing stereotype in Taiwanese society that science is a career for men and that many people associate humanities with women and maths with men. Professor Tsay also observed from the event that female high school students from rural communities had more deeply rooted gender stereotypes than their urban counterparts.
Professor Tsay said that to eliminate traditional gender stereotypes, this year’s camp, besides introducing female participants to the photonic dissecting microscope, crystal photoelectricity, and nanobiomedicine, included the presentation of such fields as the fifth generation of mobile telecommunication (5G), black holes, microprocessor system operation, and natural products research to show the cutting-edge technology in addition to the science of daily life.
A student of Pingtung Girls' Senior High School, Chin-Ju Hsieh said that in high school, she mostly studied science reading and that the camp let her visit many different laboratories in one go, experience science hands-on, and broaden her horizons. The laboratory that left the deepest impression on her was the Rapid Screening Research Center for Toxicology and Biomedicine, where she could use the mass spectrometer to detect plasticizers on notebooks and folders. She said that this let her discover the close connection between science and daily life. At first, she was just interested in nutriology, but the visit expanded her interests to other fields.
A student of Kaohsiung Municipal Hsin-Chuang Senior High School, Ching-Yun Hsu said that she had already been interested in science, especially physics, and that this time at NSYSU she not only visited laboratories of the Department of Physics but also broadened her interests to chemistry, astronomy, and marine sciences.
Discussing the importance of the participation of women in science, NSYSU President Ying-Yao Cheng emphasized that one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to attain by 2030 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure marks the beginning of the 4th global industrial revolution. He said that self-driving cars, robotic technology, 3D printing, genetic diagnosis, and the Internet of Things are all connected to different STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and that the future world would need scientists, engineers and technicians of both genders with STEM experience to innovate. National Sun Yat-sen University hopes to cultivate more women to participate in the world of science.