NTNU researcher Mathilde le Moullec is one of four researcher voices in the documentary. The photo was taken during the shooting. Photo: Idun Haugan / NTNU

This question will be explored in a documentary that premieres on Wednesday 6 October on France’s second largest TV channel.  The film team has visited NTNU and interviewed researchers, students and the Pro-Rector about recruitment initiatives that are helping to close the gender gap.

The documentary highlights the challenges involved in creating gender balance in many of the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The starting point for the film is the situation in France, where male dominance prevails in these fields.

The documentary integrates NTNU and Norway as example showing that it is possible to change gender balance through strategic work with recruitment initiatives.

Ada – a project for girls

The cybernetics and robotics programme at NTNU was one of the aspects that aroused the interest of the documentary team. This is one of the technological study programmes at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (IE) where The Girl Project Ada has been working actively for more than 20 years to recruit more female students.

Statistics from the last 15 years show that the average proportion of female students has increased from 7 per cent to 35 per cent in the study programmes Cybernetics and Robotics, Electronic Systems Design and Innovation, Communication Technology and Digital Security as well as Computer Science.

The Ada project is named after the world’s first programmer, Ada Lovelace.

Recruitment to academic positions

The documentary also presents other actions that NTNU has taken to recruit more women to academic positions, including:

Start-up packages for women in a permanent academic position (associate professor and professor/dosent) where the ratio of women to men in these positions is less than 25 per cent at department level.

Qualification fellowships for women in associate professor/førstelektor positions.

NTNU’s mentoring programme for women in associate professor and førstelektor positions.

The new programme IDUN – from PhD to professor, which received a grant of NOK 9.3 million from the Research Council of Norway last year. The project is led by Letizia Jaccheri.

Why did the TV team choose NTNU?

During research for the documentary by the TV team, researcher Isabelle Collet emerged as an important source. Isabelle Collet is Associate Professor in Educational Sciences at the University of Geneva. Her research interests include exploring actions that can be taken to reduce the gender gap in ICT, technology and science disciplines. In her publications, Collet has described NTNU as one of several examples of universities that have introduced targeted recruitment initiatives and achieved results in this way.

The TV team wanted to find out more about this. It started as an enquiry via NTNU Help and ended with a week of filming at NTNU.

Change demands long-term efforts

“It is exciting that we are getting international attention for the work we are doing in this field and for the results we are achieving,” says Pro-Rector Toril N. Hernes, who chairs NTNU’s committee for gender balance and diversity.

“Although we have many good initiatives, we also have challenges and a long way to go, not least in recruiting female professors. It is important to have a long-term perspective and to work strategically and systematically with gender balance at all levels. You can’t do this in the blink of an eye,” says Toril N. Hernes, who is interviewed about NTNU’s gender equality measures in the documentary.

NTNU researcher has a key role in the documentary

Through portraits of four female researchers, the documentary explores questions about the challenges presented by the gender gap in STEM fields.  One of the researchers is Mathilde le Moullec, a French postdoc at the Department of Biology at NTNU. She has experience from academia in both France and Norway.

Also Adj. Associate Professor Florence Kermen, PhD Candidate Lara Veylit and researcher Christophe Coste, all at Department of Biology, participate in the documentary, and PhD Candidate Lucie Descamps at Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Postdoctoral Fellow Léa Bouffaut at Department of Electronic Systems and Postdoctoral Fellow Marion Barbeau at Department of Physics.

France 2 is the second largest TV channel in France. The documentary is being aired as part of “La Fête de la science” (the Science Festival) in which France 2 is a partner. In several arenas in France, screenings will be followed by debate. NTNU researcher Mathilde Le Moullec takes part virtually in one of the debates.

How can you see the documentary?

“La science a mauvais genre” will be aired on Wednesday evening at 23:15. Footage from NTNU appears at the beginning of the film, but mostly towards the end where solutions are presented.

If you have an Altibox subscription, you can choose France 2 from the optional channels.

You can also watch the documentary online free of charge when it is broadcast, via this link: https://www.tntendirect.com/FRANCE-2-en-direct

You can also watch the documentary by VPN solution, for instance by NordVPN.

Those who have been involved in the filming at NTNU will be invited to a separate screening, with English subtitles. More info about this will be sent by email.