STEM Programme for Girls
Girls’ Activities Programme in the STEM Fields
EPFL has a specific programme to encourage girls to get ahead in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). When the programme was launched in 2003 with a course for girls aged 9 to 12, it was a pioneer in girls-only science and technology activities. It has since expanded with the development of activities adapted to each age group.
The aim of the programme is to introduce girls to STEM disciplines, to give them confidence in their abilities, to offer them a space to freely develop their potential, to show them the usefulness of science and technology for society, and to put them in contact with role models.
The programme is intended for girls aged 7 to 16. Numerous STEM activities are offered specifically to girls in the extracurricular setting in the form of semester courses, workshops and day camps. The programme has been implemented in all French-speaking and bilingual French-German cantons (Bern, Fribourg, Vaud) with activities in both languages, as well as in the German-speaking cantons of Basel and Schaffhausen.
The programme targets the younger female and male audiences aged 7 to 16 (primary and secondary I levels). It is based on an active and playful pedagogical approach to:
- Raise interest in science and technology ;
- Develop creativity ;
- Promote the acquisition of scientific thinking and new knowledge in the STEM disciplines.
It addresses gender dimension, includes targeted girls-only actions, and also raises awareness among parents and teachers on gender issus. It focuses on information, encouragement and introduction to the sciences and technical fields in order to encourage the next generation of scientists, technicians, and engineers in Switzerland. The objectives of the programme include spreading of a fair and valorizing image of STEM disciplines, showing the usefulness of science for society, increasing the confidence of young girls in their abilities, and breaking down gender-related prejudices. Measures are also developed to dialogue with and inform parents in order to encourage their children and teenagers to choose scientific options as well as to provide teachers with tools and support for some scientific activities. Each year over 12’000 young girls and boys benefit from this program.
School-based activities, such as the science bus tour, or scientific and technical workshops, at EPFL or in classrooms, meet the demand of primary and secondary I schools. Other activities such as semester-long STEM courses, workshops, and science camps allow young people to be introduced to science and technology outside of school hours. The activities are successfully deployed in all French-speaking or bilingual French-German cantons in Switzerland as well as in one German-speaking canton. For all extracurricular activities a quota of 50% of girls is respected.
STEM courses and workshops in different cities
Semester courses on Saturdays, in French or German, for girls aged 9 to 12, beginners in computer science and nevertheless interested in the immense possibilities of becoming familiar with digital technology and programming, while having fun.
Semester courses on Saturdays reserved for young girls from 11 to 13 years old to give them the possibility and the means to go further in the world of computer science and communication technologies by programming a robot while having fun.
A free programming club for girls aged 11 to 16 to maintain and strengthen their interest, knowledge, creativity and confidence in their abilities in the ICT fields. Various programming activities, in French and German, with face-to-face coding workshops, mentor meetings and complementary online activities.
Maths at EPFL
Semester-long mathematics workshops on Wednesdays for girls ages 10 to 13 (in classes from 7H to 9H Swiss System), which involve original, non-school-based thinking. They offer a different approach through games, riddles, puzzles, and fun investigations.
Semester-long mathematics workshops on Saturdays for girls aged 12 to 15 (in classes from 9H, 10H or 11H Swiss System) who wish to deepen their interest and curiosity in mathematics through contact with EPFL students and acquire new skills and knowledge.
Day camps at EPFL
The camps “Je m’amuse avec les sciences” for girls aged 7 to 10 and “La science, c’est aussi pour les filles” for 11 to 13 years old last five days and take place in summer or autumn. The scientific topics are varied and the approach is learning by doing scientific experiments. Whenever possible visit of laboratories and contact with EPFL researchers are also organized.
A 5-days summer camp for girls aged 11 to 13 years old with a program to discover the extraordinary properties of materials! From metals that change shape to powders that crystallize to surprising liquids, there are so many things to manipulate during this week.
A 4-days summer camp for girls aged 13 to 15 whose goal is to program a cell phone application. How? By creating a fun program to share and communicate information between friends.
Polythemes at EPFL
During three Wednesdays from 2 to 4 pm, girls from 7 to 10 years old can come and discover the extraordinary properties of materials: metals that change shape, powders that crystallize, surprising liquids, so many things to manipulate during this workshop.
Women to lead the way
This exhibition about the Nobel Prize-winning women who have made human discoveries possible can be borrowed free of charge from the EPFL Science Outreach Department.
11 February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. On this occasion and for the whole of the week, CERN, EPFL and UNIGE Scienscope offer local schools the opportunity to welcome a female scientist/engineer to present her work to (mixed) classes in the Geneva region.
Women active in the field of ICTs are invited to present their career path and exchange with girls within the framework of the EPFL projectCoding Club for girls.
Surveys and testimonials
EPFL surveyed 1,292 families who had one or more daughters participating in at least one of its activities between January 2010 and July 2014 (4.5 years). 44% responded:
Read a summary of the results (in French)
Read a summary of the results (in English)