20th anniversary of the French Association Femmes & Sciences (Women and Science)
20-21 November 2020
A team of highly motivated members began to prepare this anniversary one year ago. The programme was very ambitious: two sessions related to enterprises and schooling over a day plus a full day session for the members, an exhibition of art photos of women scientists on the railings of Paris Town Hall. But then a first 2020 COVID-19 lockdown occurred in spring, then a second one this autumn… Multiple readjustments were necessary, following the new pandemic rules. Finally one session and the exhibition have been postponed to 2021, and two sessions were adapted to videoconferencing (by very expert volunteer members!).
On the afternoon of November 20th the session “Girls Studies Orientation towards Science – Status Quo and Leverages” primarily targeted teachers (and was an official training for over 100 of them) and the general public. There were 351 attendees, from the different regions of France and also from Ivory Coast, Madagascar, West Indies, Hong Kong, Singapore… After a talk by an Education scientist on studies and survey results about the choice of science by girls, the next speaker trained the teachers on “Fighting, Identifying and De-Crystallising Stereotypes”. Then the different tools for teenagers and educators on science orientation for young people, realised by the association Femmes & Sciences (F&S), were described. Finally a “speed-meeting” allowed five women scientists of various ages and disciplines to introduce their career path and their scientific activity. The audience appreciated very much that afternoon and in particular the testimonies: even if F&S members are visiting many classes in various parts of France, unfortunately they cannot go everywhere!
The last session on November 21st during Saturday morning, “We, the F&S members”, was for members only; 86 of them were connected out of 350. After an introduction by Nadine Halberstadt, F&S President, who pointed that it was the first time that the association was organising such a session for members only, the attendance was split into groups of 10 persons in “ice-breaking” parallel sessions. Then each French regional group presented their activities (tools for teenagers, exhibitions, career descriptions for teenagers or teenager girls, mentoring of PhD female students, documents for teachers against stereotypes or presenting portraits of women scientists of the past and of nowadays…). Next came the analysis of the results of a survey launched by F&S, and having received almost 3.000 answers, on the way women and men scientists experienced the COVID-19 period. In the final discussion the participants expressed their interest in renewing such a session, which allows members to know better each other and regional groups to take advantage of the other groups’ experience.
EPWS President, Femmes & Sciences Vice-President