IE University is committed to promoting equality in education

@Roberto Arribas

The university has launched a competition to promote equality between men and women and address gender-based violence in educational establishments.

As you enter the IE University Library in Segovia, located on the second floor of the former Convent of Santa Cruz la Real, your attention is drawn to a unique corner that stands out from the rest. Bold blue lettering reminds us that we are in the Purple Corner of IE University, a recently created space on campus that aims to promote gender equality, raise awareness on the issue and prevent gender-based violence in higher education. Several purple-colored shelves of the library are lined with all kinds of readings, aimed at emphasizing the empowerment of women and the importance of achieving real equality between men and women.

The Purple Corner, or Punto Violeta at IE University is linked with the 2030 Agenda adopted by the UN in 2015, in which member states committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals spanning a variety of issues. Among them were the eradication of poverty, combating climate change, improving education, achieving equality for women, protection of the environment, and enhancing the design of our cities. «The Purple Corner at the university is another step toward our goal of achieving compliance with this list of objectives. The fifth among them specifically refers to gender equality,» says Beatriz Martínez, Deputy Director of the lE University Library in Segovia.

Created as a result of collaboration between the Vice-Rector for Students, the Junta of Castile and León and the IE University Library, the Purple Corner offers a number of literary works on the subject of gender equality. It features renowned writers whose thinking had a decisive influence on the feminist movement, such as Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir and Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. To enrich the new space, any member of the IE University community is invited to suggest books or articles on the topic of gender equality to add to the collection. Each month, the library also puts a spotlight on one of the book suggestions from members of the IE University community.

Photo by: Roberto Arribas

«This project is the product of a collaboration between IE University and the Junta of Castilla and León, taking action together for equality and against gender-based violence,» says Miguel Larrañaga, Vice-Rector for Students at IE University.

The Purple Corner is perhaps the most obvious example of IE University’s commitment to equality in education and campaign against sexist violence of any kind. But the university has not been alone in their efforts with this initiative. Under the coordination of Candela Terriza and Soraya Polanco as leaders of the Equality Project, IE University has been developing an ambitious program of prevention and awareness against gender-based violence since last year. Through various outreach activities and focused workshops, the project aims to educate the university community on equality of rights and opportunities as well as prevent and combat harassment, assault and sexual abuse in the university setting. 

COMPETITION

In late November last year, a group of students from the Colegio Cooperativa Alcázar de Segovia school visited the IE University campus to participate in different activities as part of the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. These students were particularly interested in the Purple Corner, given that their school had also installed one.  The students’ visit was hugely enriching—not only were resources and information on equality between men and women shared, but it also sparked the beginning of an ambitious collaborative project between the two educational institutions. As a result, IE University and the Colegio Cooperativa Alcázar de Segovia have recently launched a competition designed to encourage the creation and implementation of Purple Corners among other schools in the city of Segovia. The aim is to establish a broad network of these kind of spaces as a service for all students in Segovia. So far, six primary and secondary schools in the city of Segovia have signed up for the competition: IES Francisco Giner de los Ríos, IES Mariano Quintanilla, IES La Albuera, Colegio Claret, IES Ezequiel González, and Colegio Marista Nuestra Señora de la Fuencisla.

«Our children have the right to grow up inequality. Implementing equality in education has an impact on their development from the perspective of gender. Ideally, this should start at a very early age when we are free from prejudice since harmful roles are internalized as early as in adolescence. Therefore, equality in education can and must continue to be addressed and refreshed throughout the entire school system, and the university level is no exception,» says Candela Terriza from the IE University Equality Project.

Photo by: Roberto Arribas

Once the projects are received, the organization overseeing the competition will appoint a jury comprised of representatives from the institutional field as well as specialists in gender equality and the elimination of gender-based violence. The jury will assess, among other criteria, the type of message students want to convey in their Purple Corner, in addition to the creativity and originality of the space.

STEM

According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. Between 2014 and 2016 only around 30% of all female students chose higher education studies in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The fact is that many of the roles required by companies in the future will demand specialized training in the STEM fields. The data shows that increasingly fewer young people are enrolled in these types of courses in Spain and, simultaneously, increasingly fewer women. With this in mind, IE University was one of the institutions that took part in activities surrounding the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in order to encourage engagement among females in these fields of study. In turn, more women in STEM will convey to younger generations of students the idea that it is possible to achieve equality. To this end, a group of high school students from Segovia who are participating in the STEM Talent Girl project were introduced to the work of several university departments led by women.

«The education sector is key to achieving real equality. Projects such as STEM Talent Girl help to balance the scales, but it is in classrooms where small actions can make a huge difference.  “We show young people that we all contribute equally to science, technology, the arts and humanities,» says Soraya Polanco of the IE University Equality Project.

There are women on the IE University Segovia Campus, for example, who are leading an innovative and globally pioneering project with the DIY IE Library app. This is a cutting-edge mobile auto-loan application that enables students and teachers to access all library resources from their mobile. The app facilitates the loan and return of books, browsing the library’s collection, payment of fines, and even automatically mutes the phone upon entrance to the library.

Additionally, it is a young woman from Segovia—María Elena Cardiel—who directs the IEU Fab Lab. The lab is a manufacturing space that forms part of a global network of laboratories promoted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), providing access to an extensive network of students, academics, scientists and researchers from more than 90 countries. In this high-tech lab, Cardiel deals with 3D printers, laser cutters, and remote-controlled milling machines.  Architecture students build models and experiment with different materials and techniques there so that they can convert their computerized designs into physical objects.