07/05/2014: Natural sciences and engineering: they say girls rarely choose these fields. But do “feminine” and “masculine” courses really exist, or is this just the result of stereotypes? To answer these and other questions, the Milestone Institute hosted a Girls’ Day event last week. As one girl with engineering ambitions noted, “I’ve heard it several times before that these courses are not meant for us.” How come then that according to our numbers, one third of the girls in the Milestone Senior year chose a course in the natural and/or engineering sciences?
Playing “Forehead Detective” with the more than two dozen girls who attended our event yielded many revealing answers. The essence of this game is that everybody puts a post-it on their head with the name of a celebrity written on it. Naturally, nobody knows what’s on their card, thus they need to figure it out by asking questions about who they might be. We played the same game with the girls, but instead of celebrities, we used university courses. The rounds were exciting, but they revealed a general truth among the high school students: given the lack of specific information, it is very hard to find one’s way in the labyrinth of available courses and degree programmes. Numerous options are available, but if nobody informs the students about these, it can hardly be expected that they pick anything other than the Hungarian “hit” courses. It appears that this is true for girls on several levels: many of them while choosing universities never even consider a degree in science, without any knowledge of the opportunities that would be available to them on this career trajectory.
Programme Director Ida Gal and Institute co-founder Adam Zeitler tried to fill this information gap by giving a short lecture about university and course choices. Interestingly, the participating girls were particularly curious about options for studying abroad, notably the chances of gaining a place on sciences courses. The Milestone Institute actively encourages female students to apply for science courses pays special attention to their underrepresentation in the associated academic fields.
The event was organized by the Milestone Institute at the request of the Women in Science Association.