We proudly present a new Space Science youth Education and Outreach initiative called Girls InSpace, that spans a collection of four 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 aiming to empower and motivate girls in STEM, targeting 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 recent study published by Nature 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.
All four 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 last book of the collection, “The non-princess Aurora”, explores the auroral phenomena and addresses gender stereotypes.
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: the Girls InSpace books were written by me, a Brazilian (still young) Space Physicist and women space scientists from different parts of the world were invited to write the prefaces. Astrophysicist Dr. Adriana Valio, from Brazil, for the "Isabelle and the Telescope". South African space weather expert Dr. Zama Katamzi-Joseph, for "Helio: Cecilia's first love". Dr. Georgia de Nolfo, representing the USA/NASA for "Lelis & Lola's cosmic great grandpa". And the Norwegian scientist Dr. Anja Stromme, for "The non-princess Aurora".
Initially, the “Girls InSpace project” will be available in three languages (Portuguese, Spanish and English) aiming to reach out to the youth of Brazil and other countries of Latin America, as well as North America and parts of the African continent.
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.
To date, all the 4 stories are written in Portuguese, just waiting to be brought to life through a complete set of illustrations and translations.
We ask your support to fund the illustrations and translations and help Girls InSpace take off!
Scientist, Author, Mom^2, Professor, and Friend to Girls InSpace everywhere...
Risks and challenges
All projects have some level of risk, and ours is no different. In an effort to reduce the overall cost of production (and ultimately lower our funding goal) we are working with an experienced and well-vetted team and publishing platform. We have had excellent interactions with them as we work to complete our first set of published books and are excited to continue building on our connections.
We do not expect delays, but anything can happen when we review proofs from the publisher. We rely on our suppliers just as you rely on us, and hope for a relationship of mutual understanding.
- (60 days)