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Media Corner
16 May 2012

F4E inspires Catalan youth to follow a career in science.

Francina Canadell Navarro explaining the merits of a scientific career

In an attempt to raise awareness about the merits of a scientific career and bridge the gender gap, F4E responded favourably to the initiative of the Catalan authorities by putting in the driving seat a young, committed and promising member of staff: Francina Canadell Navarro. She is nuclear engineer by training, currently working in the ITER Department’s “Cryoplant and fuel cycle” project team, and firmly believes that science can offer a ticket to an international career full of potential.

The importance of learning foreign languages was highlighted in order to underline the fact that multilingual skills can broaden the professional horizons of the Catalan youth. It was therefore decided to carry out the interview in English. We also took the opportunity to break the ‘glass ceiling’ and challenge stereotypes regarding study fields, career choices and gender. On average in the EU-27, women represent 37% of all researchers in the higher education sector, 39% in the government sector and 19% in the business enterprise sector: in all three sectors, however, there is a move towards a more gender-balanced research population. There is a growing amount of literature suggesting that the participation of women in tertiary STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education increases as girls perform better in these topics during secondary education. Amongst the EU-27, Poland, Ireland, Spain, and Italy score percentages reaching 40% of women’s participation.

The influence of role models to which young people can relate has been studied for years and carries significant value in the choices we make. The way these role models are portrayed through different media is equally important. We hope that Francina’s enthusiasm and conviction make more students wonder: “what if...?”

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To read the recently published gender and science analysis of the last thirty years of European research click here.