RRING public forum events are a vital part of our work in bringing various stakeholders together around a topic of mutual interest and for a common purpose. They form part of our ongoing work in taking responsible, research and innovation conversations outside of academia and into the public domain, with an objective of mutual collaboration to tackle societal challenges specifically the UN Sustainable Development goals. They are based on three principles:
Co-creation (ie. What can we as a group of stakeholders do to address the topic)?
Social innovation (How can we meet societal needs in an innovative way?)
Social entrepreneurship (What entrepreneurial solutions can society produce?)
Better science requires mutual learning between scientists and the public in order to understand a breadth of perspectives, frames and global views. It also provides an opportunity for the dissemination of science and research. Members of the RRING network should be looking for opportunities to host or get involved with public forum type events in order to truly achieve the RRING objectives.
When and How
Any member of the RRING community can hold a public forum event with the support of the RRING project team. They are held on an ad-hoc basis either virtually or as in-person events depending on the format that is most suitable. They may form part of larger events or a series of events. The flexibility of these events is extremely important in order that the format is best for engaging the interested wider public.
They will generally be based around a topic of specific scientific interest on a local, global or national basis, often with an element of political or conceptual controversy usually underpinned by the SDGs. Content must be accessible for all stakeholders not just those representing academia. Formats may include expert speakers, round table discussions and open question and answer sessions.
Future public forums are planned in Spain, Japan, India and the UK. RRING members and trial countries are urged to consider how they are engaging with the wider public and what topics are of relevance and importance to their national agenda. They should look at ways in which they can connect academia to wider society and consider public forums as a way of doing this. The RRING project team can support in modes of engagement and planning and preparing for these events.
The director of the UOC’s GenTIC research group, Milagros Sáinz, is collaborating on a study that evaluates the effectiveness of female role models in promoting scientific and technological vocations for girls
According to data published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), female participation in the labour market has risen over the past 35 years, with women now accounting for 52.5% of the total workforce. Despite this increase, gender equality in the workplace is still far from a reality. In traditionally male-dominated fields, such as those known by the STEM acronym (for science, technology, engineering and mathematics), only two of every ten positions are occupied by women.
This underrepresentation distances women from accessing leadership positions and results in the exclusion of the feminine perspective in creating and developing solutions in the digital transformation era. It also leads to an absence of role models that showcase the contributions made by women in these areas, which may in turn cause children and teens to mistakenly think that the talent and skills required to pursue STEM careers are correlated with masculinity.
The researchers evaluated the effectiveness of an intervention implemented in sixteen schools in various cities around Spain, involving the participation of 304 girls aged between twelve and sixteen. The intervention formed part of a programme developed by the Inspiring Girls Foundation to promote scientific and technological vocations for girls. This programme involves recruiting successfulwomen working in STEM fields as volunteers to gointo schoolsto talk to the children about their careers. The hope is that this contact with female role models will serve to prevent the perpetuation of gender stereotyping in relation to STEM subject competency and encourage girls to opt to study on university programmes in these fields.
“From a very early age, around the age of six, girls are conditioned to think that they are not as good at maths as their male counterparts. This programme, however, focuses on girls in secondary education aged between twelve and seventeen, as this represents a crucial time during which they have to make choices about which academic path to follow,” explained Sáinz.
Dismantling gender stereotypes
The youngsters who participated in the study, which examined their perceptions in relation to mathematics, were asked to complete a questionnaire both before and after the talks in which they needed to rate the validity of statements, such as ‘Maths is more important for boys’, ‘Boys are better at maths than girls,’ and ‘I am talented at maths.’
The aim was to analyse the extent to which the intervention – attending the talks given by successful women working in STEM – changed the girls’ perceptions about whether women are able to succeed in these fields and whether it increased the likelihood of them choosing to go on to study a STEM subject at university.
“We observed how effective the sessions were in neutralizing the negative effects of gender stereotypes, which advocate that girls have less of an affinity for mathematics, in relation to their predisposition to choose to study STEM subjects,” stressed Sáinz.
Thus, according to the results of the study, coming into contact with successful women working in traditionally male-dominated STEM fields helps promote an interest in these areas of study for girls. “The sessions with the role models also showed the girls a reality that was contrary to established gender stereotypes regarding the kind of people that supposedly work in these sectors and the requirements needed to enter them,” the UOC researcher pointed out.
The role played by families and teachers
Sáinz has also recently published another study, again in the Frontiers in Psychology journal, on how the assessments made, often unconsciously, by parents and teachers with regard to the academic skills of adolescentshelp to reinforce gender stereotypes and roles. Surprisingly, the researchers identified a discrepancy between the actual academic performance of students and the perception of their abilities by parents and teachers.
In fact, the study, which involved eight focus groups made up of 39 parents and 34 secondary school teachers, showed that many adults are unaware that girls achieve higher grades across all subjects, including those traditionally associated with masculine roles, such as maths, technology, physics and chemistry.
Many of them also continue to attribute academic performance to biological or genetic differences, without reflecting on the implications of this or on how these misconceptions contribute to replicating gender biases and perpetuating a socialization process based on emphasizing the differences between men and women.
“Although some parents and teachers are aware of this, they don’t possess the strategies to combat these gender biases,” said Sáinz. As such, the researcher suggests that efforts still need to be made to seekstrategies to effectively combat these biases through training and intervention programmes aimed at families and the educational community.
This research at the UOC promotes Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4: Quality Education, 5: Gender Equality and 10: Reduce Inequalities.
Sáinz, M.; Fàbregues, S.; Solé, J. (2020). “Parent and Teacher Depictions of Gender Gaps in Secondary Student Appraisals of Their Academic Competences”. In: Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.573752
This last study received funding from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (FEM-2014-55096-R) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The UOC’s research and innovation (R&I) contribute to solving the challenges facing the global societies of the 21st century by studying ICTs’ interactions with human activity, with a specific focus on e-learning and e-health. Over 400 researchers and 50 research groups work among the University’s seven faculties and three research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), the eLearn Center (eLC) and the eHealth Center (eHC).
The United Nations 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals and open knowledge provide strategic pillars on which the UOC’s teaching, research and innovation are built. More information: research.uoc.edu.
As a part of the S4D4C project (“Using Science for/in Diplomacy for addressing global Challenges”), S4D4C experts investigate a range of science diplomacy cases in their activity called “European Science Diplomacy addressing global challenges”. A mixed team of researchers has developed nine case studies, which each provide an overview of the case and its background, context and governance arrangements, further providing a description of the stakeholder landscape and a discussion of governance practices. They look at the EU level as well as selected examples from the national level that varies case to case. The case studies examine the use of knowledge, the relations between governance levels and provide a discussion on how the case improves or changes our understanding of science diplomacy. They were edited by Mitchell Young (Charles University), Tim Flink (DZHW) and Elke Dall (ZSI).
These case studies are at the empirical heart of S4D4C, informing many other parts of the project such as the work on a governance framework and training materials for science diplomats. The next step in the project is a transversal analysis of the case data, for which we will identify and explicate a range of issues that matter for science diplomacy based on the work in the volume presented here.
Cases with a foreign policy focus
1. Science diplomacy and infectious diseases: Between national and European narratives Case authors: Ivo Šlosarčík/ Charles University,
Nadia Meyer/ German Aerospace Center,
Jennifer Chubb/ University of Sheffield
The Zika epidemics in 2015 and 2016 provided a platform for further elaboration of science diplomacy used by the EU institutions and EU Member States. The response was characterised by an interplay between the political, diplomatic, medical and scientific communities performed within national, European, and global frameworks.
2. Water diplomacy and its future in the national, regional and European environments Case authors:
Eliška Tomalová/ Charles University, Eliška Černovská/ Charles University,
Ewert Aukes/ University of Twente,
Jasper Montana/ University of Sheffield
Elke Dall/ Centre for Social Innovation
Water diplomacy represents a challenge for bringing the worlds of diplomacy and science closer together; it has the potential to shape the diplomatic environment as well as to create new interfaces, techniques, and team strategies in science and foreign policy
3. Cyber security: Mapping the role of science diplomacy in the cyber field Case authors:
Lucie Kadlecová/ Charles University,
Nadia Meyer/ German Aerospace Centre, Rafaël Cos/ University of Lille,
Pauline Ravinet/ University of Lille
Cyber security has entered the agenda of the international community and has quickly been transformed from a purely technical topic to an issue of diplomacy. The term ‘cyber diplomacy’ has come into global use, and countries are keenly deploying their own ‘cyber diplomats’.
4. The science and diplomacy of global challenges: Food security in EU-Africa relations Case authors: Rafaël Cos/ University of Lille, Pauline Ravinet/ University of Lille, Mitchell Young/ Charles University
Over the past 20 years, a set of institutions, concerns, competencies, partnerships, and programmes have shaped the features of EU-African Union food security diplomacy. To what extent has science played a role in deploying this food security diplomacy?
5. International dimensions of the EU’s FET Flagships: Large-scale strategic research investments as a site of de-facto science diplomacy Case Author:
Alexander Degelsegger-Márquez/ formerly Centre for Social Innovation, now S4D4C Advisory Board member,
A study of Future and Emerging Technology (FET) Flagship initiatives as potential mechanisms of EU science diplomacy reveals that their governance models and design as research policy instruments have sectoral foreign policy dynamics.
6. Open Science Diplomacy Case author: Katja Mayer/ Centre for Social Innovation
Following the call for ‘open science, open innovation, and open to the world’ by the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas in 2015, we look for applications and implications of open science in science diplomacy.
7. SESAME – An international research infrastructure in the Middle East Case author:
Charlotte Rungius/ German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies
SESAME is a synchrotron light source user’s facility in the Middle East. The international research centre was initiated with the explicit intention to foster scientific cooperation among a number of countries that share a history of conflict.
8. Joint international research programming as a case of science diplomacy Case author:
Tim Flink/ German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies
Joint international research programming is a common but underrated case of science diplomacy. It engages funding agencies as intermediary organisations that are compelled to operate at the intersection of science policy and international affairs.
9. Science advice in the European Union: Crafting collective understanding of transnational issues Case author: JasperMontana/ University of Sheffield
In thinking about science diplomacy, it is important to not only acknowledge the formal structures for science diplomacy, but also to consider the ways in which internal capacities for science diplomacy might already be buildt into diplomatic systems.