Youthtopia, Heraklion, Greece: Why aren’t there more women in science?

Youthtopia” is a newly established non-formal youth group in the city of Heraklion, Crete, Greece. Its members are experienced in Erasmus+ Projects, youth exchange and training. Youthtopia aims to activate youngsters in the local community and develop their soft skills through volunteering, “learning by doing”, organising events and participating in youth activities. Through their actions, Youthtopia aims to help people grow by taking the initiative in their lives, searching, learning and developing skills applicable to every aspect of their lives.

Through Erasmus+ projects Youthtopia enhances international cooperation, broadens the horizons, strengthens the collaboration among organisations with the same vision as well as cultivating friendship among different nations, understanding people’s differences, minimising discrimination and supporting people in discovering things about themselves and life through non-formal education. Members have organised events to activate the local society in Heraklion, mostly concerning the young people of the city, such as a scientific treasure hunt, lectures with scientists and a summer camp.

On the ninth of February, Youthtopia organised, with great success, the ‘’Women in Science” event in the city of Heraklion. The four female speakers and one male speaker, all of them distinguished professors and researchers, gave fascinating lectures about the theme of ”Women in Science”, each one presenting their unique points of view.

The speakers were:

  • Prof. Maria Vamvakaki (Professor at the Department of Materials and Science of University of Crete)
  • Prof. Panayiota Poirazi (Research Director at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, in Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas)
  • Dr Evangelia Dormousi (Marie Curie Researcher at Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas)
  • Prof. Panagiota Fatourou (Department of Computer Science, University of Crete and Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas)
  • Prof. Emeritus Eleftherios Economou, (Department of Physics, University of Crete, and Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser, Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas).

The female speakers referred to the low percentage of women involved in Science and Research, which is lower than 30% in Europe, while in Greece, it is slightly higher at about 38%. They attributed this issue to the many responsibilities a woman faces when she creates a family and the difficulty in balancing career and family life. This becomes even more difficult when a woman works in sciences, taking into account the long hours needed to be spent every day on the job. However, if there is an equal distribution of duties and responsibilities among all the members of a family, it can really help a woman to maintain the right balance. Moreover, Greek society should provide women who have families with more prerogatives to facilitate their work.

Referring to specific examples, speakers also discussed how gender discrimination exists in Academia and in science-related jobs. Women typically face extraordinary obstacles in their way to a higher position. However, discrimination of all sort still exists today, that both women and men face alike, like discrimination against people with disabilities.

The event was attended by 200 people and during the break science experiments were conducted by the group “Science behind”.

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