A KTH campaign to promote STEM studies offers a way for students and professionals to reach out to teenage girls with their personal stories and advice. If today you could send a message to yourself at the age of 15, what would you say? Taking advantage of that imaginary opportunity is what lies at the center of a new STEM studies campaign aimed at girls and young women, which was launched by KTH Royal Institute of Technology in March.
Dubbed after its hashtag: #WWYS15 (“what would you say 15”). the campaign invites women in STEM studies or related professions to video record their personal message and reach out to teenage girls to share the experiences, and the excitement, of a life devoted to the traditionally-male oriented fields of science, technology, engineering or math. All they need to do is record their message on their smartphone, upload it and tag it, #WWYS15.
The gender gap in STEM fields is well-documented, with some estimates placing the percentage of women in STEM related fields at only 24 percent. KTH has made gender equality a priority, not only in recruitment of students and researchers, but in setting the university’s direction.
KTH President Sigbritt Karlssonis one of only a relative handful of women to hold the position of president at a top-rated university, and as the head of a technical university, her status is even rarer. Additionally, the KTH university board has a 60/40 male-to-female composition.
“WWYS15 is a campaign to help change the imbalance in the STEM related fields. Not only at KTH, but worldwide. We think one important part of closing the gender gap is to engage girls in their adolescence,” Karlsson says.
“WWYS15 aims to enlist STEM students and professionals worldwide to talk directly to girls and to their parents about the challenges and rewards of a life dedicated to work in these fields.”
The campaign is one of several ways KTH focuses on young female students at the middle and secondary level. Every year, the university’s Giants program hosts more than than 200 secondary level students for a full day of engagement with KTH alumni and students at the university’s Stockholm campus, where they learn why more women are needed in science and technology, and what young women can expect if they follow this path.
And for the third year running, KTH is joining forces with Grammy Award-nominated recording artist Robyn to host the Tekla Festival on April 22, which offers an interactive environment exclusively for to explore different kinds of technologies.