Girls, Girls, Girls
Roberta-Robot bolts across the table – first forward, then around a corner – just as the earlier programming during the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften (Long Night of the Sciences) told it to. This night is just over and once again the little robot left lasting impressions on people – also on girls, like Luisa Jahn reports. They assemble the car out of many Lego-bricks and then they teach it to drive by means of intuitive image-driven programming. The car is controlled by a chip and driven by two small engines.
When Luisa Jahn was at school herself, she took part in a computer project group at Humboldt-University Berlin (HU). “We simply took computers apart. This was extremely helpful for learning not to be overly cautious, but to get hands-on with technology,” she tells us. She is now an IT-student and wants to share her enthusiasm for it with other girls and young women in a program called FiNCA – Frauen in den Naturwissenschaften am Campus Adlershof (Women in the Natural Sciences at the Adlershof Campus). The program is directed by Márta Gutsche, who coordinates a many activities ranging from Girls Day and Experiment Day to summer holiday courses or weekly project groups, which some girls attend over the course of several years. Additonally, FiNCA is also an means of promoting networking between female students and emerging young scientists in their further careers.
To get girls interested in math, IT, natural sciences and technology (short: the MINT-subjects), as well as convincing parents to support their daughters, is Susanne Janks mission from the Institute of Physics (Didactics department). After all, the ratio of female students in these subjects leaves much to be desired. In 2007, 54 per cent of the high-school graduates were female, but only ten percent of the first year students in the natural sciences.
Jank is in charge of Club Lise, which was created especially though not exclusively for girls with an ethnic background. They get to know female mentors who they can share thoughts with and visit at their workplaces, for instance at the Charité university hospital, at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, the Institute of Physics (Working Group Photophysics) and the German Aerospace Center. Currently, around 30 girls from nine participating Berlin schools take part in this programme each school term. “Of course we cannot guarantee that the girls will actually start a career in a MINT-profession later,” says Jank, “but there are promising examples. We direct them to existing opportunities and give them a chance to experiment – in more than one way.” With regard to their work, the three ladies have one main wish: a lasting and sustainable plan for the project from the sponsors. “After all, our activities are meeting a high demand,” says Márta Gutsche. “In a way, every day is Girls Day here.”
by Uta Deffke
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- Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Physik
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