Recently, the Ukrainian educational project SHE is SCIENCE has announced the winners of the essay competition that was conducted as part of the charitable initiative STEM is FEM. The competition was aimed at girls aged 14 to 21 in order to popularize female scientists and provide the girls with role models in the tech world and world of science. Sapar Karyagdyyev, head of Gamingtec and a co-founder of STEM is FEM, explains how media entertainment can help the project curators popularize both the competition and the project.
Even though the essay competition lasted only from February to March 2021, it received 563 written works. All the works were checked upon plagiarism and examined by the expert jury which consisted of scientists, bloggers, journalists, and other well-known people in Ukraine. This way, they managed to choose the best works – one for each of the 12 categories that corresponded to the 12 heroines of the project portrayed in the illustrations. The coordinators of the project chose 12 prominent Ukrainian female scientists as heroines as they wanted, with the scientists’ example, to show the girls that achieving success in science is possible regardless of gender.
The awarding of the winners in the essay competition is planned for June 10 in Kyiv. One of the winners will get the Grand Prix—$4,000 for education. But the event will not only include the awarding part, there will be also other entertainment parts, like exhibition and charity auction.
‘There will be many things, but the main lots will be non-fungible tokens. Twelve NFT portraits created as part of the project will fall under the gavel, and the proceeds will be added to the Grand Prix to widen the choice of educational options for the winner,’ Sapar Karyagdyyev states.
The even will be available to everyone to watch online on the official STEM is FEM page on Facebook. This way, STEM is FEM wants to get as much attention to the event and the problem it refers to as possible. The project aims to cover several goals at the same time. First, to give a good example that both men and women can do science on an equal basis. Second, to promote science among Ukrainian girls. Third, to motivate teenagers to study tech specialties and to provide the smartest ones with the funds to choose the education.
To achieve all these goals, the organizers decided to combine art and science. That is why they asked twelve illustrators to create portrays of prominent Ukrainian female scientists.
‘To implement this part, we have chosen young progressive Ukrainian illustrators. We have chosen such authors and illustration style since our main audience is young people and teenagers in particular. Soon, they will have to choose their careers and build a new society free from gender bias,’ Sapar Karyagdyyev explains.
The project tried to use all the available ways of using media entertainment achievements to promote the initiative. This way, there were created online quizzes about female scientists, a few online platforms have recorded podcasts about the project heroines, and the set of portrays was exhibited in the most popular places in Kyiv.
According to Sapar Karyagdyyev, media entertainment became the key to spread the idea of the project. Before trying it, the initiative had conducted 10 modules that introduced Ukrainian schoolgirls to IT, pharmaceuticals, architecture, mechanical engineering, and other STEM specialties. But once the coordinators opted to go viral and implement a larger-scale project, SHE is SCIENCE, they got the support of the international organizations’ UN Women in Ukraine and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine. This way, the project became part of the UN Women’s global campaign “Generation of Equality.”
You can find out more about Sapar Karyagdyyev here.