A contribution by Silvia Giuliani1 and Lorenzo Forini2

1 ISMAR-CNR, via Piero Gobetti 101, Bologna (Italy)

2 via Giuseppe Mezzofanti 15, Bologna (Italy)

As you well know, the ENGIE project wants to spark the interest of girls to study geosciences and geo-engineering. Why? Because the project’s partners strongly believe in the power of diversity for the successful solution of problems. This is true in any aspect of our lives, but is particularly evident in knowledge areas that have been traditionally “colonized” by men, such as Geology and Engineering. Time has come to turn the tide, and Geology and Geo-engineering faculties are ready to be “flooded” by students (both girls and boys) who will enrich these disciplines with their multifaceted points of view!

Fig. 1. The title of the motivational videos.

We are well aware of the positive effect that role models have on inspiring you, future generations of academics and professionals! Indeed, one of the principal actions of the ENGIE project revolves around the collection and dissemination of successful women’s stories in the field of Geosciences and Geo-engineering, to attract and encourage girls into pursuing similar careers. The passionate story telling of what moved them into a specific study area, how they faced and overcame difficulties and prejudices provides a powerful message to all amongst you that struggle to find their way into the world or are scared that what really interests them is not what they are expected to do.

These examples are particularly important when accomplished female professionals working in traditionally male industries provide them. Similarly, the narratives provided by young graduates in Earth Science and Engineering disciplines can create positive feedbacks with teenage school girls and boys, with the additional bonus provided by age proximity that can facilitate communication and emotional/knowledge transfer.

The way these stories are told is crucial, as they should be sincere, clearly stated and, why not, entertaining. The creation of motivational videos satisfies all these needs, and is a tool most of you are very familiar with, because you use it daily to create your own narratives, quite like professionals. In addition to this, the social distancing requested by the Covid-19 pandemic made this one the only available choice to reach you out….. L!!!

Fig. 2. The questions we asked to the interviewed geologists

​For this reason, we have decided to produce three such videos: Silvia was involved as the reference researcher of the ENGIE project for the National Research Council of Italy, while Lorenzo is a skilled video maker. We then asked three senior researchers and three young MScs in Geology to participate. Their answer was an enthusiastic YES, as they were all aware of the importance of communicating their experiences! The main title of the videos was “Women and Geology – Researchers and fresh graduates for the next generation of Earth scientists (Fig. 1) and participants were asked to independently record (because of Covid-19!!!) their answers to three different questions: 1) What pushed you towards Geology and related disciplines? 2) (for senior researchers) What do you like about being a Geologist? or (for fresh graduates) How do you imagine your future as a Geologist? and 3) Why should passionate girls become geologists? (Fig. 2). Italian students from 6th to 13th grade (11-19 years old) were the primary audience of these videos, therefore we chose to use Italian as the spoken language. Nevertheless, we have provided English subtitles that can be easily translated into your own language, if necessary (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Screenshots from the videos with the interviewed participants.

In addition to being a lot of fun in the making, these videos carry very important messages that, somewhat unexpectedly, are much similar across generations and experiences. Indeed, both senior researchers and freshly graduates indicate Curiosity as the main engine for their first interest in Earth Sciences, while the possibility to contribute to increasing people’s wellbeing, education, and safety is the principal reason why they love their work and studies. Not to be discouraged by what other people think and say is the most important advice they give to young generations interested in pursuing a career in Earth Science professions.

We are very proud of the results and are deeply indebted with the researchers and MScs who have poured their enthusiasm in this action. If you want to judge by yourself, the videos are freely available on the project’s YouTube channel: 

Please, have a look and enjoy!

This article has been published in the June 2021 edition of the ENGIE Magazine.