Like other STEM fields, astronomy suffers from under-representation of women and minorities and lack of role models to inspire the next generation of astronomers, including Lebanon.
The project core is a platform called She Speaks Science www.shespeaksscience.com, that aims to make science accessible and promotes women in STEM, one story at a time. Scheherazade, the storyteller of 1001 Nights who achieves social progress and justice with her captivating tales, is the vessel through which the science is narrated. So to inspire and connect, we tell stories infused with social relevance. Our contributing storytellers are inspiring women in STEM and role models from all over the world. The platform now has readership in more than 80 countries across the globe..
The project mantle is public talks and workshops to reach our audience in Lebanon and the UK. Talks are interactive and centred around a pop-out DIY figure (such as an astronaut or a Mars Rover) and students will co-create stories around that. This gives students agency and triggers their creativity and imagination.
The platform stories are also powerful for a continued engagement as an accessible backup resource after talks. Talks at schools once or twice a year are not enough to keep students engaged. Access to the platform and following it on social media is more effective to engage them and enhance their attitudes toward STEM. Last year the project leader gave more than 15 public talks reaching about 2000 people of all ages.
The project is expanding. It will also be curating an exhibit in spring 2020 called “Scheherazade: Five Tales of Discovery” in Cambridge, UK where the founder and astrophysicist Dr Ghina M. Halabi is based.