On Saturday 24 November, around 220 girls aged between 11 and 15 attended a hands-on science day. The event was organised in the frame for the Greenlight for Girls initiative – a non-profit initiative promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics to girls worldwide of all ages and backgrounds.
The event took place at the European School in Mol, Belgium, and researchers from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) in nearby Geel volunteered to organise nine of the 23 scientific workshops. The main goal of the day was to get the girls involved in chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics in an interactive fun way, so as to spark their interest in these fields – an aim which is perfectly in tune with the Commission's own promotional campaign, 'Science – it's a girl thing'.
The activities organised by the JRC included 'the science of slime', 'extracting DNA from a kiwi' and the 'needle in a haystack' (a metaphor for detecting elusive particles such as neutrinos). The girls came from local schools in and around Mol, plus 40 pupils from the European School in Bergen, Netherlands. Based on the reactions of the girls in the video, the event was certainly successful in promoting studies in science.
Women continue to be under-represented in research at a time when Europe needs more researchers to foster innovation and bolster its economy. It is extremely important to attract young women to careers in research to increase the total number of researchers in Europe. There is a growing pool of female talent in Europe from which research and innovation could and should benefit.