As education institutions of all levels in Taiwan stay closed due to the pandemic, National Sun Yat-sen University organized the first online visit to female scientists’ laboratories on campus. The event quickly became popular and the quota for registration was filled within minutes; the event attracted over 400 female students of 35 high schools. Distinguished Professor of the Department of Physics and Senior Vice President of NSYSU Shiow-Fon Tsay pointed out that this event was organized for high school students and that it included a visit to laboratories of 4 disciplines: physics, chemistry, photonics engineering, and marine sciences to inspire young girls to step on the path of science and technology research.
The online visit to female scientists’ laboratories at NSYSU was led by professors or graduate female students of physics, chemistry, photonics engineering, and marine sciences in the form of an online video conference. The students showed 4 laboratories to high schoolers: Nanodevice and Thin Film Transistor Display Laboratory, Rapid Screening Research Center for Toxicology and Biomedicine, Liquid Crystal Photonics Lab, and Aquatic Ecosystem Toxicology Laboratory. Female high school students participating in the event not only gained a better understanding of the scientific equipment and professional knowledge with the guidance of graduate students and professors but also, by seeing role models in the speakers, they could visualize themselves as future science and technology researchers.
As the principal investigator of the project of the Ministry of Science and Technology for the cultivation of female scientists in STEM fields, Professor Tsay said that in Taiwan, only around 30% of science-related jobs are filled by women and the reason for such a low ratio is the long-standing stereotype in Taiwanese society that science is a career for men. To eliminate this stereotype among the female students and encourage them to get involved in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), NSYSU, during the level 3 epidemic alert period in Taiwan, organized a visit to female scientists’ laboratories on campus for the first time in the online version. Looking at the quickly filled quota for registration, female high school students are passionate about exploring scientific knowledge.
“You can visit NSYSU’s laboratories without leaving your home!” A high school female student from Pingtung Yan-Ting Liu said that during the level 3 epidemic alert, she mostly studied online and absorbed knowledge in natural sciences. She signed up for NSYSU’s event – covering several disciplines: physics, chemistry, photonics, and marine sciences – as soon as she learned about it. During the event, thanks to researchers’ clear and understandable explanation, she gained knowledge in physics and chemistry and she “could turn her imagination about science into reality” and get inspired by women researchers in the profession.
A high schooler from Hualien, Jui-Meng Cheng mentioned that she has been passionate about natural sciences since childhood, and observing such experiments with mirror reflection or the sucking disk, she could learn about science in daily life. In middle school, she signed up for science class and learned about Earth science. Her passion for science sprouted when making a volcano simulation. With all schools closed in Taiwan, while studying at home, Jui-Meng signed up for the online visit to 4 laboratories at NSYSU, hoping to absorb knowledge like a sponge. She is determined to become a great researcher in the future.
Discussing the importance of women’s participation 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 with different STEM fields and that the future world would need scientists, engineers, and technicians of both genders with STEM experience to innovate. Thus, during the pandemic, NSYSU launched an online visit to the laboratories on campus, hoping to inspire more girls to participate in the world of science and for the number of female scientists to increase.