The educational art project SHE is SCIENCE continues to successfully popularize the image of a female scientist among the Ukrainian public. The project shows 12 stories of Ukrainian representatives of the world of science who made a notable contribution to its development. Sergey Tokarev, the founder of the technology company Roosh, an initiator of SHE is SCIENCE, spoke about the ways the project is promoting gender equality in the scientific field, what stage it is now at, and what its plans are.
According to Sergey Tokarev, an initiator of the project, SHE is SCIENCE emerged as a response to gender injustice in the scientific field. The entrepreneur has been running the social project STEM is FEM for a long time. It is focused on the technical education of Ukrainian schoolgirls. Over time, it became clear that this was not enough to improve the gender situation in the STEM world.
“We held a simple experimental poll—we asked our acquaintances how many outstanding Ukrainian female scientists they could name without the help of Google. The results showed that the vast majority could not recall a single name. From that day on, we began to actively think about how to rectify this situation,” Tokarev says.
The synthesis of science and art
Modern challenges require modern approaches to address them. In the modern world, visual information prevails in communications. Therefore, the project organizers felt that creating an impressive collection of images to attract public attention is the best way. The result was a series of stylized portraits of the twelve project heroines. The authors of the pictures were famous Ukrainian illustrators—Sergiy Maidukov, Anna Ivanenko, Anna Sarvira, Olga Degtyareva, and Jenya Polosina. The pictures convey the appearance of scientists, their character, as well as the area of their activity.
“We decided to go beyond the visual arts and attract even more young people. To do this, we held a competition for the best essay-caption for the paintings among girls aged 14 to 21. We received 561 works, 12 of them, one for each heroine of the project, have become an essential part of the exhibition,” Sergey Tokarev notes.
Presentation in Ukraine
The exhibition’s official premiere took place on June 10 in Kyiv. The event was attended by a number of foreign guests—diplomats from France, Belgium, the United States, representatives of UN Women, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and NATO, as well as the First Lady of the country Olena Zelenska.
“During the opening, we also held a charity auction where paintings with signatures of their authors were presented in lots. We sent the proceeds, more than 43,000 dollars, to the prize fund for the winners of the best essay competition. This money will be used to cover the girls’ educational expenses,” the initiator of SHE is SCIENCE said.
After the official presentation, the copies of the exhibition went on a tour of Ukraine. The first cities visited by the project were Zaporizhzhia, Mariupol, and Kryvyi Rih. There, SHE is SCIENCE was presented as part of STEAM-CAMP, the leadership educational program for teachers. Also, the famous historical station of Kozyatyn, the Vinnytsia region, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine hosted the exhibition. In the future, the organizers plan to present the project in all major cities of the country, starting with Chernivtsi, Poltava, and Khmelnytskyi.
“Alongside organizing activities, we also provide free exhibit copies to everyone who wants to hold an exposition on their own in their city or village. At the moment, we have already sent out 109 copies to the libraries, schools, universities, and other institutions. In total, we plan to distribute 300 sets. So, if you want to join our initiative, you can order a copy for yourself. You can find all the conditions for obtaining it and the contacts of the organizers on the main page of the STEM is FEM website,” Tokarev calls upon.
The exhibition also takes part in large-scale cultural events. For instance, SHE is SCIENCE was presented in the pavilion of the Minor Academy of Sciences of Ukraine at the Book Arsenal Festival, and soon, it is preparing to be exhibited at the forum of publishers Book Forum Lviv.
The exhibition curators are planning to enter the international arena soon. The organizers are already negotiating with Ukrainian embassies in the EU and the rest of the world.
“A very important part of the image of any country is its contribution to the development of world science. Fortunately, Ukraine has much to show, and in the future, the achievements of our female scientists will be known on all continents of our planet,” Sergey Tokarev stressed.
At the moment, the exposition can be visited in the UNIT.City innovation park in Kyiv. In autumn, the exhibition will find its permanent “place of residence”. The organizers will announce later where it will be.
Let us note that the project SHE is SCIENCE was created with the support of international organizations UN Women and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and is part of the UN Women global campaign Generation Equality.