A total amount of $43,600 to ensure educational grants for young ladies, a speech by the First Lady of Ukraine, and support of foreign diplomats and representatives of UN, NATO and other international organizations—these are the results of the all-Ukrainian educational project SHE is SCIENCE. The fundraiser that took place on June 10 in Kyiv brought together young activists and notables. Sapar Karyagdyyev, the head of Gamingtec and one of the project’s initiators, shared the details of the landmark event and also told what goals the initiators of the project set and why they decided to bring it to life.
The event was organized by the charitable educational project STEM is FEM. Its main task is to eliminate gender stereotypes in the scientific and technical sphere, as well as to motivate Ukrainian girls to choose technical specialties for their education. The charity evening culmination was the awarding of the 12 finalists of the SHE is SCIENCE essay competition. The project’s curators held an auction that helped raise more than $40,000 to cover education fees of the winners. In addition, as part of the event, a panel discussion was held with the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and young activists.
How did the event organizers manage to draw such attention to it? According to Sapar Karyagdyyev, the event evokes several urgent issues in the society.
According to him, not only in Ukraine, but also in many countries of the world, a gender imbalance is very clearly seen both in technical specialties and in science. As indicated by the statistics, this problem is not only ethically motivated. Gender equality contributes to the economic development of any sphere of activity, as it increases productivity.
To achieve the goals of the project, several tasks were set: to tell as many people as possible about outstanding female scientists from Ukraine, to establish gender equality in the scientific and technical sphere, and to popularize science among the younger generation. The curators did not use common methods such as forums or press conferences. Instead, 12 portraits of famous female scientists from different generations were created at the first stage. The series was authored by famous Ukrainian illustrators: Olha Dekhtyareva, Sergiy Maidukov, Anna Sarvira, Zhenya Polosina, and Anna Ivanenko.
As Sapar Karyagdyyev noted, the portraits did not just accurately convey the features of each of the personalities depicted. Each of them clearly shows the field a particular scientist made achievements in, be it mathematics, medicine, biology, or physics.
The second stage of the project also turned out to be outside-the-box: the participants had to write an essay about one of the project heroines. Girls aged 14 to 21 reasoned in their works not only about the women’s achievements, but also why their example can be inspiring for young people.
Sapar Karyagdyyev noted that the organizers received more than 500 essays. Girls described not only the heroine they had chosen in them, but also argued about the phenomenon of women in science, suggested how to achieve gender equality in this area and how to popularize technical specialties among girls.
The author of the best artwork, Anastasia Suvorova from Kyiv won the top award. The student of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy dedicated her work to ornithologist Natalia Atamas. The girl became the owner of a grant in the amount of $35,900. The project’s initiators guaranteed $4,000, and they managed to raise $31,900 during the charity auction. By the way, the lots that included jewelry, fashionable dresses, brunches and even a helicopter tour over the exclusion zone, were offered by the guests of the event.
But the project does not end at this point: its organizers are already planning to create a traveling exhibition. Until June 24, the exposition can be visited in Kyiv. After that, it will move to Zaporizhzhia, Mariupol, and Kryvyi Rih. In the future, it is planned to visit other cities of Ukraine. In addition, any school, library, or university in the country will soon have an opportunity to order a copy of the portraits and essays collection.