Girls Choose Science: Women's Contribution to STEM Discussed at LETI

Girls Choose Science: Women's Contribution to STEM Discussed at LETI

Scientists from Russia and Africa discussed strategies for involving women in high-tech industries at the international mentoring session "Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)."


On 28 July, on the final day of the second Russia-Africa Summit, an international mentoring session "Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)" was held at LETI. The event was attended by women from Russia and 5 African countries: South Africa, Tunisia, Namibia, Tanzania, and Ghana.

Speakers – established STEM professionals – talked about how women are contributing to science and technology today, what obstacles they face in their careers, and how they overcome them, and gave advice to female technical university students based on their professional and life experiences.

One of the moderators of the session was Alexandra Ryabykh, Co-Founder of the Foundation for the Support and Development of Women's Initiatives "Association of Women of the Nuclear Industry." 

"In the new economic realities, Africa's 2063 agenda focuses on technology-related projects: digital transformation, development of artificial intelligence, industrial projects, and cooperation chains. At the same time, the basis for technological progress is the creation of quality human capital and the involvement of the younger generation, for which it is necessary to increase the motivation of young professionals to work in STEM fields. Higher education institutions play a leading role in this, for example, LETI, Rosatom's main educational partner in St. Petersburg, is successfully managing this".

Alexandra Ryabykh, Co-Founder of the Foundation for the Support and Development of Women's Initiatives "Association of Women of the Nuclear Industry"

According to UN research, 30% of girls in the world today choose to pursue education related to science and engineering fields, but when faced with barriers and stereotypes, they lose motivation to enter STEM careers.

Anastasia Minina, Vice-Rector for International Affairs of LETI, co-moderated the session and spoke about the training program and the female professional and scientific careers at the First Electrotechnical.

"LETI was and is famous for its engineering team, including remarkable female engineers who are safely studying at the university both at bachelor's, master's, and postgraduate levels. LETI has many wonderful, amazing women scientists who achieved success in their careers at a rather young age: they are professors of the Russian Academy of Sciences, doctors of sciences, and PhDs. 40% of LETI students are female, and this is a very good indicator for a technical university".

Anastasia Minina, Vice-Rector for International Affairs of LETI

Tatyana Terentyeva, Deputy General Director for Personnel of Rosatom State Corporation, addressed the session participants via videoconference call. She emphasized how acute the issue of training highly qualified personnel to ensure scientific and technological development is in a rapidly changing world.

"Unfortunately, today, the potential of women in the labor market is underutilized. In addition, women are not sufficiently integrated into high-tech industries. The main tasks to solve this problem are to increase the role of women in science, involve them in innovative technologies, retrain them to meet the new requirements of the economy, and implement HR strategies in organizations," said Tatyana Terentyeva.

Today, Rosatom employs almost 350,000 people, 32% of whom are women, a figure higher than the global average in the nuclear industry.

Speakers from Africa shared their success stories, how they overcame challenges and broke stereotypes. Emotional speeches inspired the young participants of the session to pursue professional development in science and technology. Among the outstanding speakers were Princess Mthombeni (South Africa), Nuclear Communications Specialist and Founder of Africa4Nuclear; Najoua Kamoun Turki (Tunisia), Director of the Department of Synthesis of Nanomaterials and Thin-Film Semiconductors for Optoelectronic Applications at the Laboratory of Condensed Matter Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Tunisia; Thekla Mutero (Namibia), Founding President of the "Namibia Emerging Mining Fund"; Mercy Joshua Mwakitalima (Tanzania), Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer, Master's student of LETI; Faten Boujelbane (Tunisia), CNSTN Researcher, President of WIN Tunisia; Eliud Canisius Gregory (Tanzania), Founder and National Chair of the Organisation "Youth in Technology and Engineering."

Russia was represented at the forum by Tatyana Terentyeva, Deputy Director General for Personnel at Rosatom State Corporation; Anastasia Minina, Vice-Rector for International Affairs at LETI; Alexandra Ryabykh, Co-Founder of the Foundation for the Support and Development of Women's Initiatives "Association of Women of the Nuclear Industry"; Natalia Andreeva, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Senior Researcher at the Nanotechnology Research and Education Centre, Ekaterina Solntseva, Head of the Scientific and Technical Department at GIDROPRESS, Chair of the Rosatom Council of Young Scientists, Oksana Almyasheva, Head of the Department of Physical Chemistry at LETI, Alina Bogdanova, Standardisation Laboratory Engineer at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, and Elena Fedorchenko, Associate Professor at the Department of Information Systems at LETI.

The "Women in STEM" session continued with a tour of the LETI campus and ended with a visit to the laboratory of the Department of Electrical Technology and Converter Engineering. The session participants exchanged contacts to continue working remotely.

The International Mentoring Session "Women in STEM" was organized by the Eurasian Women's Forum, the association "Women in the Nuclear Industry," and St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University "LETI."