In Portugal, only 33% of young people who finish high school access higher education and when we take race and socioeconomic context into consideration, this number often drops dramatically (1). In Escola Pedro D’Orey da Cunha in Damaia (Lisbon suburbs), as in many others, this is a reality. Over the last few months, we have been in contact with this school and developed a collaborative pilot programme for 8th graders (13 year olds) called Ciência di Noz Manera / (Women) Scientists as Role Models.
More about this two-phase programme:
1. Large group sessions: in a hybrid format (half webinars/half in-person) researchers are invited to share with the students a very short and simple presentation on an accessible topic related to their research and, more importantly, what it means to be a researcher. This will start in May 2021, just before the summer school vacation.
2. Workshop and mentoring: this will involve a smaller group, preselected by the school, comprising those teenagers with tremendous potential, but lacking role-models and motivation to even consider further study. With this group we would like to develop a short programme at the school where students could form a relationship with the researchers while doing some hands-on experimental work. We expect this to facilitate a longer-term mentoring process as they progress, helping the teenagers to decide on the best options for their studies and paths. This will start during the summer school vacation 2021 and continue into autumn 2021 and beyond.
We are now looking for Champalimaud researchers to get involved, prioritising women and those from other underrepresented groups in STEM to fill the role-model gap.
If you think you can offer these teenagers from an underprivileged context a taste of your work and motivations and the opportunity to think about their own options and future in a different way, then please answer this form or contact Laura Ward, João Cruz, Catarina Ramos, or ERA Chair Adriana Sánchez-Danés or Rita Fior directly, and let us know how and when you would like to be involved!
Interested but can't commit your time right now? Follow our progress and stories below.
Following the introductory session, and for those volunteering for the Phase I seminars, we have added all of the resources you will need to a folder, which you can access here (including some updated guide slides from Catarina and a crib/info sheet).