To mark this year’s International Women’s day, the Nordic diplomatic representations in Brussels arranged a breakfast debate focusing on women working in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. FEMINA Communication Advisor, Marte Drageset, was invited to participate in the panel to discuss FEMINA and Advisory Partner GCE NODEs activities to promote women in STEM.

The panel was moderated by Melissa Rancourt, the founder and board president of the international non-profit Greenlight for girls. On the panel was Katja Toropainen (Founder of Inklusiiv), Anna Häger (Flexens Oy Ab), Lis Mortensen (Geological Survey in the Farao Islands), and Marte B. Drageset (GCE NODE and FEMINA).

The panel agreed that there are many obstacles in society today in the form of stereotypes and culture. The panelists had themselves encountered teachers and others on their path who discouraged them from pursuing a career in STEM, however deciding to use this as a driving force to get ahead.

All panelists are working to promote the number of women in STEM through various measures. Lis Mortensen has worked with research in changes in the landscapes of the sub-arctic Farao Islands, the impact of climate change and geo-hazards. Based on this, she has engaged in science communication to children, youth, and adults with the aim to use knowledge about the environment to inspire interest in STEM. Katja Torapainen has founded the non-profit Inklusiiv which aims to advance diversity and inclusion in the working life. Anna Häger works at the tech start-up Flexens Oy Ab where she is the project manager for citizen engagement and communication. She states that she sees it as her responsibility to open the door for other women and be a role model for other women pursuing a career in STEM. Marte Drageset, Project Manager at GCE NODE and Communication manager for FEMINA, states that she hopes the work they do at GCE NODE through projects such as Node Eyde Women (NEW) and FEMINA will help break down barriers for women to enter STEM and that the measures taken help create awareness of the values that can be gained from closing the gender gap in STEM.