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Girlsday 2012

Submitter: Diversity Committee
Description: On 26 April ASTRON, JIVE and the NOVA-ASTRON Optical Infrared Instrumentation group hosted 32 young women from local schools as part of Girlsday 2012.

Our visitors heard presentations on radio astronomy and R&D, and participated in four hands-on workshops. These included live chatting with professional female astronomers about their lives and work, measuring signals from a local radio transmitter (while dodging rain showers), listening to a pulsar with the Dwingeloo telescope, exploring Doppler effect (again dodging rain), and soldering LED packets.

In their feedback questionnaires many of the girls enjoyed the activities ("cool", "really cool" and "super cool") and talks ("difficult but fascinating"). Most also said that they now think more favorably about studies in science or technology. Other things they learned: not all scientists wear lab coats; astronomers often sit behind computers; and there are lots of foreigners and not many women. Clearly next year, according to feedback surveys, we will also need to pray more fervently to the rain gods not to impinge on our outdoor activities!

Girlsday is a European initiative aimed at stimulating girls' interest in science, technology and ICT, and takes place annually in April. This is the fifth Girlsday for ASTRON/JIVE and was organised by the Diversity Committee. More information about Girlsday in the Netherlands can be found at www.girlsday.nl.
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