We proudly present our beloved Space Science youth Education and Outreach initiative called Girls InSpace, that spans a collection of books about a group of young girls and their adventures (always related to the sky and simultaneously introducing Earth and Space science concepts).
Girls InSpace stories were created by me, a space physicist born in Brazil, aiming to empower and motivate girls in STEM, targeting initially the age group in which the gender gap starts (from 9 to 13 years-old). Yes, although we are approaching the end of the second decade of the 21st century, gender inequality in Science is still a BIG problem to be attacked...
According to the United Nations, only 29% of the total scientists in the world are female. In the Earth and Space Science field, the same gender disadvantage was found by a study published by Nature in 2017 that analyzed the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) member database and found out that less than 30% of the first authors of the AGU scientific publications are composed by women. This low participation by women in Science at all levels of their academic career as Physicists in the US is verified by the National Science Foundation 2017 database - showing that less than 25% of the Physics undergraduate and graduate students are women.
The gender gap problem in Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) areas starts in middle school, when girls get demotivated to pursue those careers due to a number of social reasons. A study performed by Microsoft found that the majority of the European women who work in STEM fields got engaged around 12 years-old. The challenge then is to work to close the gender gap already at its source, thus being proactive and supporting gender equality initiatives that encourage young girls to participate in STEM is as a crucial path to progress.
Girls InSpace is a capacity-building project that shares the same goals of the United Nations, specifically the Sustainable Development Goal #5, and is part of my personal effort to help achieve gender equality in the Space Sciences. This project is also aligned with AGU’s mission "to promote discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity" and similar-thinking organizations, pursuing equality and inclusiveness.
*Between Feb 11 and Apr 11 2018, we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the illustrations and first translations of the books. The first 3 books of the Girls InSpace collection (in English) are available below (and the Portuguese versions can be found here).
girls inspace books:
All books have in common a diverse set of main female characters: Rafa, Ceci, Isabelle, Lelis and Lola (with the participation of the siblings Gabriel and Aurora) that will help the young readers to identify themselves with the stories. Each characters is inspired by real kids in my life (some were students of mine, others are family) and all keep little traces of their true personalities, highlighting their true curiosity of natural phenomena.
The first book, called “Isabelle and the Telescope” introduces the Scientific method and some topics in Astronomy during the story. The second book, “Helio: Cecilia’s first love” engages young readers to learn about our Sun and Space Weather with novel parallels to the unpredictable behavior of teenagers. The third book, “Lelis & Lola’s cosmic great-grandpa” includes the discovery of Cosmic-rays as the story’s background. The story lines drawn around selected topics of astronomy and space physics are divided into 10 to 15 short chapters. Each book is being beautifully illustrated (by the talented young Brazilian artist Allan Max). At the end of each chapter, the reader will find special sections: Keep Investigating - with some questions that challenges the readers to think critically and instill their curiosity; and Ask Dr. Lindy - who contextualizes scientific findings and topics mentioned earlier in the chapter.
Female role models in the Space Sciences are at the heart of this collection.
Having the books translated to English will enable us to more rapidly convert the content to additional languages, such as French and Arabic (which are two widely spoken languages in Africa) significantly enhancing our outreach efforts.
* Two extra volumes of the Girls InSpace collection will be released in 2020 and translated to English. Having the books translated to English will enable us to more rapidly convert the content to additional languages, such as French and Arabic (which are two widely spoken languages in Africa) significantly enhancing our outreach efforts.