One of the 5th grade classes at the American School of Barcelona is getting ready for a different kind of day. Today they’re welcoming a visitor who could change their lives and shape their future, or at least that’s what she’s aiming for. “My name is Sara Riera, I studied Mathematics and Industrial Engineering, I’m the head of Energy & Charging Services at SEAT S.A., and I’m here today to tell you about my experience as a woman in science.” The classroom is silent, but after one girl raises her hand to ask the first question, more and more hands hands go up. This could be the first time they’ve met a women with a STEM career (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Breaking the cycle.
According to UNESCO, only 28% of engineering graduates are women.
Only 28% of engineering graduates and only 33.3% of research scientists worldwide are women, according to the latest UNESCO study, UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030 (2021). The lack of female role models in STEM contributes to these low numbers. Girls who don’t see themselves reflected in STEM careers choose other professions, and consequently, won’t become STEM role models for girls and boys in the following generations. Breaking this vicious circle can begin with meetings like today’s.
Changing the world starts in the classroom.
Sara tells the class how she discovered that she wanted to study STEM careers: “When I was your age, we had maths class and my best friend looked over at me and said ‘Seriously, I hate maths’, and I thought ‘you hate maths? I love it!” That draws a lot of smiles from the children. “Then I realised that most of my classmates didn’t like it either, and that made me feel special; I saw that I had the opportunity to work on something that I’m passionate about and that contributes to society.” That brief exchange with her classmate guided Sara’s decision to focus her career on mathematics and engineering, which led her to her current role in helping SEAT S.A. deliver sustainable mobility solutions.
“What’s the coolest thing about your job?” asks Soraya. Sara has a very clear answer: “that I make the world a better place.” As the person in charge of electrification services at SEAT S.A., this engineer is convinced that the future is electric and is measured in terms of diversity. “Why should we pursue STEM careers?” asks Aya, “The question is: why not? If you like them, it’s the best thing you can do, because you bring diversity to talent: you, or you, or you, could be the designer or engineer of one of the electric cars of the future” she replies.
Role models matter.
This meeting is part of an initiative by SEAT S.A. to bring the company’s female STEM role models closer to girls and boys aged 8 to 17 from different schools on the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11th). “We want girls and boys to see themselves reflected in women engineers, mathematicians and scientists, and to be able to say: ‘I want to be like her’” says Benjamin Ramírez, head of the Culture, Change & Diversity department at SEAT S.A. In the classroom, Sara sends a message to an audience that’s paying close attention: “We as women don’t have many female role models in STEM, so work hard, pursue your dreams and you’ll be the best example for the girls of the future and for everybody, including me.”