News | Education | 14. December 2021

STEM Congress 2021 Mexico: How women and girls can enjoy equal access to STEM education

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Entitled “From Speech to Action,” the National STEM Congress 2021 Mexico was held from November 23 to 26. The online conference set strategic milestones for modern, inclusive, and sustainable STEM education in Mexico, focusing particularly on enabling women and girls to access high-quality STEM education and relevant fields of study.

The packed program included keynote speeches, master classes, expert panel discussions, interviews, and talks and allowed participants to present a wide range of perspectives on challenges facing STEM education in Mexico as well as in other regions and countries of the world. The four-day congress ultimately resulted in approval being given for a draft national action plan for STEM.

One of its main demands is to lay the necessary foundations for ensuring gender equality in STEM. Establishing close links between STEM and the common good is especially important in this context and is an issue that means a great deal to women in particular.

Opening the conference, Judith Wiese, Chief People and Sustainability Officer, Member of the Board at Siemens AG and Member of the Board of Trustees of Siemens Stiftung, pointed out from the company’s perspective:

“For many women, career is not about status but about meaning and impact. It’s not just about climbing the corporate ladder but rather about the question: What difference can I make in my role? What can I do to improve that part of the business I’m in a position to influence?”

And she added: “We need to learn to talk about ‘career’ in a different way. It’s not an end in itself. It’s about women genuinely being able to make a difference for people and business.”

A joint action plan for inclusive, modern STEM education in Mexico and the establishment of more STEM regions, known as STEM Territories, is essential to ensure that these and other aspects are taken into account. The local networks, which are made up of strategic and operational stakeholders from civil society, government, the academic and research community, and the private sector, are pooling their interests and resources in order to strengthen the education system and offer STEM courses. Coordinated by Siemens Stiftung, Red STEM Latinoamérica has so far developed about 21 initiatives for setting up STEM Territories in 11 Latin American countries.

In her speech on promoting gender inclusion by means of STEM Territories, Dr. Nina Smidt, Managing Director and Spokesperson of the Board of Directors, had this to say on the question of how girls and young women could be inspired to take up a career in science and technology:

“For me, a key aspect is creating new STEM job profiles. We need to demonstrate how STEM knowledge is embedded in the welfare sector, healthcare, environmental management, and climate education. We need to demonstrate that, rather than being restricted to certain fields, STEM knowledge permeates virtually all areas of society and its industries. Besides being the foundation for understanding Planet Earth, science will also guide it into a future in which humanity is able to exist on this planet.”

The Final Declaration of the conference indicates that the establishment of STEM territories is a suitable measure to also take greater account of the gender perspective, especially of girls and women. Among other things, a total of four strategic cornerstones for MINT education in Mexico were identified: inclusion with a gender perspective and focus on women, promotion of relevant skills for Industry 4.0, compliance with the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the OECD, and a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The virtual congress was organized by the international Siemens Stiftung, the non-profit organization INNOVEC (Innovation in Science Education, Innovación en la Enseñanza de la Ciencia A. C.) and the Movimiento STEM movement. A total of 61,500 views were recorded for the web streams of all program items of the four-day event.

The four-day conference was organized by the international Siemens Stiftung, the nonprofit organization INNOVEC (Innovation in Science Education, Innovación en la Enseñanza de la Ciencia A. C.), and the Movimiento STEM movement.

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