gruppo progetto ISPIRA


Inclusività nelle Scienze, una Possibilità di Identificazione e RAppresentazione
(Inclusiveness in Science, a Possibility for Identification and Representation) 


ISPIRA Project

ISPIRA is a project created by women Ph.D. students of the Faculty of Sciences with the aim of alleviating the problem of the scarcity of women in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).
The statistics of the last eleven years relating to the admission test at the Scuola Normale Superiore show only 20% of those enrolled in the admission tests for the Faculty of Sciences as being girls, against 50% of girls enrolling in the Faculty of Humanities. This trend is in line with the latest MUR data, which reveal a serious dearth of women students in the STEM faculties of the Italian universities, and which show that, as early as the moment of choice of secondary school, boys tend to choose scientific subjects, whereas girls favour the humanities. Hence the gender gap in the STEM disciplines goes right back to the lower secondary school years -  a crucial stage in scholastic and human development, during which gender prejudices and stereotypes begin to influence young people's social expectation and their choices. 
By means of seminars given by women students and researchers of the Scuola Normale, ISPIRA thus aims to arouse interest in the sciences in students of the lower secondary school, the latter rarely included in initiatives of scientific dissemination, since these are often found within university orientation courses.
The vision and experience of the women students who created ISPIRA give them the qualifications for providing adolescent girls with the support and example of a female mentor with whom they can identify, arousing their interest and hence help them in the choice of their future study career.

What is ISPIRA?

ISPIRA is a project of scientific dissemination created by women Ph.D. students of the Faculty of Sciences of the Scuola Normale Superiore. Its innovative aspect is the workshop that prepares SNS students of both genders for activities of dissemination, a workshop involving participation in a theatre masterclass centring on the communication of scientific contents. ISPIRA involves both male and female students, although the activity of dissemination in schools is carried out specifically by the female students, so as to offer secondary school girl students examples of women researchers, prepared for and enthusiastic about their work, with whom they can identify, thus unseating the idea of male predominance in the world of science. Thanks to the skills they acquire at the masterclass, the female speakers are able to convey in a clear and engaging way their own passion for the scientific disciplines. Presenting the topics discussed in a personal and subjective light helps to reduce the fear and the distance often felt by students when they come up against scientific subjects.

How is ISPIRA conducted?

The project involves 4 stages:

1. Recruitment of participants and contact with the schools
The first stage consists of the publicising of the project on the communication channels of the Scuola Normale, in order to recruit students of both genders interested in the  masterclass and the activity of dissemination in the schools. Once participants in the project have been found, there begins a phase of close and active collaboration with the teachers of the secondary schools. Based on the number of female speakers available and the faculties joining the project, a timetable of the seminars to be held at the schools is drawn up.

2. Dissemination masterclass
The second stage involves the masterclass, given by a an expert in communication and revolving around the topic of narration/game as an expedient of communication. It consists of exercises taken from the practices of the theatre, designed to equip the participants with impactful communication tools, immediate and more informal than those utilised in teaching/scientific environments.

3. Creation of the work group
On termination of the masterclass, a work group is created with the task of defining in detail the subjects to be put forward at the schools. Priority is given to recent discoveries that have had an impact on the mass media. At this stage, the speakers have the opportunity to test and perfect their seminars, gathering suggestions from students of both genders with differing study skills and interests. The work group also has the task of preparing a questionnaire to put to the classes, with questions of a general nature, connected more with the spirit of the project than with the specific subject of the seminar. The aim is to obtain feedback on the impact of the initiative.

4. Seminars in the schools
The speakers are accompanied at the seminars at the schools by a representative of the work group whose role it is to supply technical support, provide feedback on the reception of the seminars, and produce photographs and videos (with the authorisation of the parents of minors). Each seminar highlights the figures of one or more scientists who have contributed incisively to the field of research under discussion. At the end of each seminar – each lasting around 45 minutes – there is a moment of restitution, during which the students receive the questionnaire regarding the initiative and can also discuss with the speakers topics different from the scientific subject discussed.