Too many girls still renounce to pursue natural science studies, even though they have the same capabilities as boys do. Although women equal or outnumber men in most study fields in the European Union (EU-27), they represent only 41% in science, mathematics and computing and only 25% in engineering, manufacturing and construction. Women also progress much more slowly in their careers: while they make up 59% of all graduates, men account for 82% of professorships. Only 30% of European researchers are women. In governments, equivalent numbers of women and men work in the field of humanities, while only 27% of researchers in engineering and technology are female. Worse, in European businesses, only 19% of the researchers are women.[i] In the United States, women constitute 46% of the workforce, but hold only 27% of science and engineering jobs overall and 12% of engineering jobs.

This is a real concern in a world where "the future will be designed by engineers and scientists"[ii]. There is a need to specifically encourage young girls to discover science and technology careers and professions, to bring then in contact with women who can become role models for their future working lives. Young girls also need concrete examples that nurture their enjoyment and confidence in mathematics and natural sciences, by connecting the value of these study fields to future career opportunities.

This is what the initiative “Expanding your Horizons” (EYH) is trying to achieve. EYH was launched in California in 1974 by women scientists who believed that girls had as much ability, but fewer opportunities to go into natural science professions than boys. The principle of EYH is to show girls that there are numerous, fun and interesting careers that have their foundations in natural sciences and technology. Through hands-on workshops, they find out what it is like to work in some of these different careers, learning from fascinating women who are paid to play, think and solve interesting and important problems. During the workshops, the girls participate in fun experiments and discover the importance of studying mathematics and natural sciences as much as possible in school. With women volunteers to lead workshops, the girls encounter working women mathematicians, engineers and scientists who can serve as models and mentors in the future.

EYH crossed the Atlantic for the first time in November 2009 for a first conference on the European continent in Geneva. Its success convinced the organizers of the potential of this approach for girls in Geneva. They decided to propose a new meeting this year, to be held on 12 November. This time around, the Department of Public Education, Culture and Sport of the Canton and the University of Geneva have joined the initiative. Thus, about 250 girls aged between 11 and 14 will be welcomed in the University, offering them an early exposure to the academic environment. A selection of workshop topics of the day: the CERN will present, among others " See the invisible: expose cosmic rays”, the biopharmaceutical company Merck Serono will hold a session on "Makeup - Beauty or cruelty?", while EPFL will offer "The robot academy: program the LEGO Mindstorms robot."[iii]

There are still many girls who are made to believe that natural sciences and technology are not feminine and who do not know the variety and abundance of professions as well as the excitement of working in these fields. Workshop and networking programmes like EYH Geneva (and elsewhere in the world[iv]) create the opportunity for young girls to meet fascinating women who are determined to share their passion for professions that consider the complexities of life and help solve and overcome scientific and technical problems, with the ultimate goal to motivate these girls to become innovative and creative thinkers ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century. They therefore deserve the widest possible support from businesses, public entities, civil society and parents concerned about the future of the world and their children.



[ii] Beth Krasna, Swiss/US business woman, Le Temps, 11 February 2011

[iii] For more information and to register:

[iv] To find out where EYH programmes are taking place internationally or to launch a local programme, see