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summer school aims to balance gender inequality in the natural sciences

Young girls hit the science lab during summer

Published måndag 20 augusti 2012 kl 15.40
"Their faces light up"
(4:50 min)
Young summer school students in a chemistry lab at the House of Science in Stockholm. Photo: Sophie Vukovic/ Radio Sweden

More girls in Sweden choose to study natural science programs at high school. But the number of them who go on to study science at university is far lower. The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm is trying to change that and get young girls interested in science early on.

Today, the number of women who choose to study natural science at university and who end up working as researchers is far lower than men. In order to get young girls excited about science, the Royal Institute of Technology has arranged free summer courses for girls between the ages of 9 and 13. This is the project's eighth year.

The girls' teacher Henrik Åkerstedt is a masters student in physics at the Royal Institute. He tells Radio Sweden that men outnumber women by far in his lecture halls.

The courses offered at the Royal Institute's House of Science cover several natural sciences, from chemistry to artificial intelligence. The aim is getting the girls to do fun and creative excercises. This is something their science lessons at school may not offer.

"For most of them, if not all, there's at least one subject of natural sciences that they get really excited about. It's great to see their faces light up when they learn something", says Åkerstedt.

Åkerstedt says there are no attempts to make science more "girly" in his lab.

"It's culturally assumed that women are not "supposed to" do science. But that's something that we're trying to change", he says.

Judith Kelly, one of the students, does not agree that women are less interested in science.

"There are more male scientists than women", she says. "But I think they are both as interested."

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