Red Eléctrica Group, in collaboration with the non-profit association Power to Code, has launched the RedeSTEAM initiative, a competition to promote scientific and technological vocations linked to sustainable development among female students in the 3rd year of ESO (Spanish compulsory secondary education) or equivalent Vocational Training. From today, all schools wishing to participate can register on its website.
In Spain, only 13% of students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are women. As a result, female talent is absent or in the minority in productive sectors that are essential for the country and the transition to a sustainable, fair, and inclusive development model, and which, therefore, are those that will experience the greatest demand for professionals in the coming years.
"Based on unconscious biases, stereotypical ideas and lack of references, and despite being as competent as their classmates, girls and young women convince themselves that they are not cut out to study STEAM careers and discard them when it comes to deciding their professional future. With RedeSTEAM, we are addressing the root of the problem by promoting women empowerment in such disciplines from the early stages of education", explained Beatriz Corredor, chairwoman of the Red Eléctrica Group.
"Occupational segregation has serious present and future consequences. It perpetuates the gender gap, since masculinised professions have a higher economic and social value; it has an impact on the economy, as if the labour participation of women were equal to that of men, GDP would increase by 10.3% according to the Closing Gap report; and a future is being built without the plurality and wealth of visions and skills that diverse teams bring," added Corredor.
"Schools have a key role to play in promoting girls' interest in STEAM subjects and reversing the gender gap in these disciplines. This will not only encourage their interest in science and technology, but will also provide them with the benefits that will help them develop as great professionals in these disciplines," said Alicia Mancheno, secretary of Power to Code, an organisation that aims to improve the access of girls, adolescents and women to STEAM disciplines and foster their leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship skills.
Three challenges for sustainability
RedeSTEAM challenges 14- and 15-year-olds to create technological and scientific projects that contribute to a more socially and environmentally sustainable world.
In teams of a maximum of five members and through their schools, the students must present a project that addresses one of the challenges posed by applying at least two STEAM disciplines: Electrical Challenge, to design a proposal based on electricity that contributes to accelerating the decarbonisation process (energy efficiency, renewable energies...); Telecommunications Challenge, to propose an idea to solve social or environmental problems through the use of telecommunications and digitalisation (sustainable mobility, recycling...); and Sustainability Challenge, to propose an innovative solution to promote sustainable development (reduce the carbon footprint, contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, etc.).
For each challenge, two winning teams will be chosen to attend the Sustainability Conference by the Red Eléctrica Group in October, where they will participate in workshops designed to further awaken their STEAM vocation. During the conference, they will also present their projects to the audience and collect their prize. For their part, the winning schools will be provided with equipment and materials for STEAM-themed laboratories and classrooms worth 3,000 euros.
Registration is open until June 22 and can be completed via the following website redesteam.es