"Ada-Lovelace-Project"

Mentor network for women in technology and science

Aims

Participants of the summer school "Girls and Engineering" © Ada Lovelace Project, University of Koblenz-Landau

The purpose of this REC is an increase of women in scientific and technical studies and vocational training by creating interest of female students in natural sciences and technology. Using a long lasting mentor's network of students and employed experts girls and young women are informed, motivated and encouraged by female models. It serves as a permanent contact centre for interested female pupils.

Argument for inclusion

The Ada Lovelace project is a far reaching and for many years successful REC offering a comprehensive care of pupils, a training of  mentors and a strengthening of gender mainstreaming in science and technology.


Relevant information in short


Main Research Partners

All universities of the federal state Rhineland-Palatinate offering scientific and/or technical studies

Educational partners

Secondary schools in Rhineland-Palatinate

Other partners

Regional enterprises

Age classes

11 to 20 years

Thematic orientation

Interdisciplinary (sciences and technics)

Main Focus

To increase the number of women in scientific and technical studies and vocational training, to strengthen self-confidence and interest in these disciplines

Duration of activity

The project has existed since 1997, various universities offer different types of workshops to be active for example one time a week for some months or to be carried out as a course during holidays

Resources

Funded by ministries of Rhineland-Palatinate, ESF Fonds, Job Agency, regional authority Rhineland-Palatinate-Saarland; provision of infrastructure by universities and enterprises

Website

www.ada-lovelace.com

Contact person

Prof. Dr. Barbara Kessler; Dipl.-Psych. Judith Ebach

Context and conditions

As in other European states women in Germany are considerably less represented in scientific and technical studies and vocational training.

Student with Lego robot that she made and programmed © Ada Lovelace Project

In order to create early interest of girls and young women in an engineer or scientific occupation, the Ada-Lovelace-project was founded at the university of Koblenz-Landau in 1997. The REC was initiated by the ministry of women of the federal state under scientific management of Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Sander. Since then it has expanded into a regional network where all universities in the federal state Rhineland-Palatinate are represented. Each of these locations forms its own mentor's circle which is coordinated by lecturers on site and by coordinators on a local / regional level. The coordinators from the universities maintain a close contact with the schoolteachers. The female mentors are students or employed women from various enterprises.

Activities and Contents

Each of the involved universities provides a special program for female pupils in their area. The trained Ada Lovelace mentors offer different courses in which the girls can receive first insights into the everyday life of a scientific or technical occupation.
The activities take place in the schools as well as in the university buildings. Among other activities interested pupils are able to join computer-, mathematics-, and environmental technology courses or carry out experiments in the lab. Examples of these courses offered by the University of Koblenz are: construction of LEGO-robots (information science), soldering (electrical engineering) or sample taking from the ground (construction).
Special offers during holidays with various workshops for the pupils, Girls´-Days at the involved universities as well as profession and study information events at the schools are also part of the activities of the Ada Lovelace project.

Comments of the pupils who have taken part in workshops of the Ada Lovelace project:
It would be nice if such a project could take place more often because school life would become more diverse. Then more girls would also certainly choose natural sciences.“ (participant in a chemical project, 13 years)
I thought the workshop „Girls and Engineering“ to be very interesting. And it was great that there were only girls because if boys had been present they would have said „You are not able to do that“.” (female pupil, 13 years)
Thank you for coming. I have got a completely new picture of technology. During the holidays I will try to get an internship with a company.“ (participant in a technical workshop, 14 years)

Methodologies and Curriculum relevance

Participants in chemical project © Ada Lovelace Project

Participants in chemical project
Ada Lovelace Project

For the advanced training of the mentors educational concepts are developed. Also concepts for workshops of various subjects and different duration about scientific and technical questions will be created by the research partners and used by the mentors for the design of their courses. The mentors are trained and supervised by educational professionals.
The workshops are carried out at universities and schools but not within school lessons. There the pupils experiment themselves and learn to deal with teamwork and project work. By carrying out the experiments themselves pupils lose the fear of dealing with natural sciences – and strengthen confidence in their own abilities.
The themes of the offered events are often oriented along school subjects and curriculum. Nevertheless, they also enable girls to deal with interesting questions beyond the school lessons or to acquire competencies, for example in the IT area, which are not promoted in everyday school life.

Other outcomes

The project sensitizes teachers at the schools for the gender topic in lessons. Together with them ways are tried to interest also girls for the fields of mathematics, chemistry, physics and IT.
The Ada Lovelace project cooperates throughout Europe. A close exchange with similar initiatives in Austria and Luxembourg was supported by the European Commission in 2000. The Ada Lovelace project is a partner in the project “UPDATE – Understanding and Providing a Developmental Approach to Technology Education ” promoted by the 6th EU Framework programme.
In 2005 the “Ada-Lovelace-Projekt Foerderverein e.V.” (Friends of the Ada Lovelace project association) was founded which supports the purposes and the work of the Ada Lovelace project.

Mutual benefits

Female pupils who have decided for a scientific or an engineering study often become a mentor in the Ada Lovelace project themselves and advertise for their study / vocational training. For their work as mentors they are trained in presentation and conversation methods by lecturers. They receive a reimbursement and a certificate about the additional qualifications acquired in the area of organizational, communicative and social competencies.
The involved enterprises and universities benefit from the increase of female potential applicants for technical and scientific occupations.

Evaluation /feedbacks

Scientists of the university of Koblenz-Landau carry out research projects in the environment of the project theme and introduce the results into the further development of the project concept. The results of the accompanying research, the project developments as well as an Ada Lovelace scientific series are published.

Limits and possibilities

The REC has a very large target area, many female pupils who can profit from the project are addressed.
The cooperation with schools is sometimes problematic - it depends on the commitment of single teachers because of the extracurricular appearance of the project. The recruitment and work of mentors in the universities are difficult because of the meanwhile very short study times (Bachelor) and narrow timetables.

References

- Buss, Stefanie; Schäfer, Tine; Kosmal, Konstanze; Fischer, Melanie; Schluder, Nicole (2006): Aufgaben und Kompetenzen im Ada-Lovelace-Projekt. Erfahrungen und persönliche Gewinne der Studentinnen aus ihrer Mentorinnentätigkeit. In: Forum, Fachhochschule Mainz, 01/2006, S. 5-9.


- Elisabeth Sander und Gaby Husel (2006): Das Ada-Lovelace-Projekt: Erfolgreich mit Gruppenmentoring für Schülerinnen, in: Kompetenzzentrum Technik - Diversity - Chancengleichheit e.V. (Hrsg.), Wenka Wentzel: Girls'Day – Mädchen-Zukunftstag und mehr. Projekte zur Berufsorientierung von Mädchen. Ein Überblick unter Berücksichtigung der Evaluationsergebnisse zum Girls'Day – Mädchen-Zukunftstag 2005, S. 87-97. W. Bertelsmann Verlag. Bielefeld


- Ebach, J. (2006): Die Erweiterung der beruflichen Orientierung von Schülerinnen am Beispiel des Ada-Lovelace-Projekts. In: M. Endepohls-Ulpe und A. Jesse (Hrsg.): Familie und Beruf - weibliche Lebensperspektiven im Wandel (S.67-82). Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang Verlag.

Further titles on the homepage of the project.

Links

  • Other project from Germany
  • Other projects for 11 to 16 year old students
  • Other projects for 16 to 22 year old students