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Directors Forum 2012: Rocking the balance

21 November 2012 - 23 November 2012
2012 Ecsite Directors Forum

Gender equality continues as a contentious issue in modern society, particularly with regard to women in science and research. Science centres and museums play a crucial role in overcoming prejudices about science and technology careers for girls and boys. Activities and exhibitions in science centres and museums — along with their commitment to innovation and engagement — provide forums for all visitors to consciously and subconsciously reconsider gender stereotypes. 

The Ecsite Directors Forum "2012: Rocking the Balance", organized by Ecsite – the European network of science centres and museums and hosted by Teknikens Hus science centre in Luleå, Sweden, focused on the themes of diversity, inclusion, gender balance and overcoming social stereotypes in science and technology.

Ecsite and Teknikens Hus Science Centre were partners of the EU-funded TWIST project (www.the-twist-project.eu), coordinated by Experimentarium science centre in Denmark. The topic of the 2012 Ecsite Directors Forum was inspired by the collaborative outcomes of the TWIST project and will be partially funded through the project’s resources.

The full programme of the event can be downloaded here and pictures browsed through on Ecsite's Flickr account.

Much was learned during the Ecsite Directors Forum 2012, November 21-23, Teknikens Hus, Luleå, Sweden. Michael Creek, Science communication consultant (Brussels, Belgium), recaped the proceedings:

Four inspiring speakers

The event included four keynote speakers who engagingly presented and promoted discussion on topics such as reinventing cultural institutions, gender balance, and overcoming social stereotypes.

Keynote speakers included:

Toni Dancu, Visitor Research & Evaluation, explOratorium, San Francisco, USA

Toni Dancu is a Researcher at the Exploratorium, a leading museum of hands-on science and art in the US. Her research has historically focused on equity; specifically on ways of better engaging underrepresented audiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Toni has explored gender gaps in museums, and compiled a set of design goals and strategies for increasing female engagement in STEM, adapted from research in education, psychology, and museum studies. As lead researcher for the Exploratorium’s Geometry Playground, she helped the exhibition development team learn about gender inequities and understand strategies aimed at enhancing girls’ engagement at exhibits. Further, Toni has begun a research trajectory to systematically explore the effects of such design strategies on girls’ and boys’ exhibit use and learning conversations. 

Tricia Alegra Jenkins, Director, International Centre for Excellence in Educational Opportunities, The University of Liverpool, UK

Tricia Jenkins is an innovative educator with a growing international profile and is the Director of the International Centre for Excellence in Educational Opportunities at the University of Liverpool, where she has worked for over 25 years. As President of the European Children’s Universities Network and Coordinator of the Mobilising Mutual Learning Action Plan – SiS Catalyst: Children as Change Agents for Science and Society, she travels extensively promoting the concept of social inclusion and institutional change through active learning, from and with children. At the heart of her work is the belief that we have a growing imperative to accept our role as custodians of the future for our children. www.liv.ac.uk/educational-opportunities/ 

Caroline Roughneen, Director, Centre for Women in Science & Engineering Research (WiSER), O’Reilly Institute, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Caroline Roughneen is the Director of the Centre for Women in Science & Engineering Research (WiSER), which she established in 2006. The Centre, as part of Trinity College Dublin, works to identify programmes and actions to ‘recruit, retain, return, and advance’ women in science, engineering and technology disciplines – areas where they are significantly underrepresented. Prior to establishing the Centre, Caroline was a researcher at Trinity College Dublin, focusing on areas including the labour market, gender and occupational segregation (particularly in the fields of science, engineering and technology), career choices of students, and work-life balance. She is a trained facilitator and has written numerous government reports and academic articles. www.tcd.ie/wiser 

Lars-Eric Aaro, CEO, LKAB group, Sweden

Lars-Eric Aaro is CEO and president for the LKAB group, a Swedish high-tech minerals group producing iron ore and other mineral products. In the LKAB group he has served in many operating and management positions. LKAB is the world’s second biggest producer of high quality iron ore pellets for the iron and steel industries. In his long career in the Scandinavian mining and metals industry he worked with the Boliden group where he held various positions as mine superintendent in the Aitik copper and gold mine and later as head of the lead and zinc division. In the Outokumpu Group he worked as mine superintendent in the Viscaria Coppermine. Aaro is a mining engineer with a Master of Science from the Luleå University of Technology. He holds an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering Science and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science.




Teknikens Hus

Teknikens Hus is a science centre located in Lulea, Sweden, whose mission is to raise interest in science and technology, especially among children and young people. Science and technology in real world applications is a cornerstone in the approach of Teknikens Hus. The Science centre opened in 1988 as one of the first in Sweden and has an average of 120 000 visitors every year. The special concept of Teknikens Hus is to take reality as a starting-point for deepening the knowledge of science and technology.