Women and Girls in STEM Forum

App Idea Challenge for Secondary Schoolgirls

#WGSF22 – Second edition

Women make up only 41%1 of the workforce in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and 17%2 in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) jobs, although girls outperform boys in digital literacy. Increasing women participation in STEM can not only contribute to a more inclusive Europe but also bring new innovative perspectives, leading to an increase in the quality of life and to new career opportunities for everyone. Dismantling gender stereotypes and raising awareness of STEM disciplines is therefore a priority for Europe.

The EU-funded Girls Go Circular Project aims to reduce the Digital and STEM Gender Gap by equipping 40,000 schoolgirls aged 14-19 across Europe with digital and entrepreneurial skills by 2027. The Women and Girls in STEM Forum is the project’s yearly event, organised in collaboration with the European Commission, Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. During the second edition of Women and Girls in STEM Forum taking place on 26 October 2022, we would like to celebrate students’ participation in the Girls Go Circular project, offer them the opportunity to meet inspirational mentors, and make their voice heard through the App Idea Challenge!

The App Idea Challenge

The theme of the second Women and Girls in STEM Forum is “Empowering Girls in Science and Technology”. Girls and young women will have a pivotal role in the event and inspire their peers and the audience. Thus, Girls Go Circular is inviting its female students and alumnae to participate in the #AppIdeaChallenge and propose solutions to issues related to gender equality in STEM. The participating students are challenged to come up with an app solution that tackles one of the two following problems:

Option A: How to break gender stereotypes in STEM?

The idea that engineering, mechanical toys, or science experiments are for boys still prevails in certain minds (have you heard of the ‘’Draw A Scientist’’3 study?). However, these stereotypes might limit girls’ ambitions to pursue a career in STEM after school. They might have difficulty picturing themselves as scientists (or in another STEM-ICT job) because they are not exposed to sufficient female role models. For this challenge, we ask you to think of an app to help deconstruct these gender stereotypes. An example would be an app showcasing famous women scientists as role models for students.

Option B: How to boost girls' interest in STEM?

A Microsoft study4 shows that young girls in Europe become interested in STEM subjects around the age of 11 and then quickly lose interest when they reach 15. One of the main reasons is the underrepresentation of women in STEM, but another is that girls often do not see STEM careers as being creative and having a positive impact on the world. For this challenge, we ask you to think of an app, which would help getting girls excited about STEM. An example would be an app offering easy-to-do scientific experiments to see science into action, or to show the practical applications of science in real life.

Rules for Participation

Students participating in the challenge must fulfil all the following requirements:

Be a schoolgirl aged 14-19.
Be a participant or alumna of the Girls Go Circular project.
Form a team composed of 3-6 girls. Remember, we are working together to increase women's participation in STEM!

Each team is asked to follow the steps below:

Step 1:

Develop a mock-up of your app. Submit it as a PDF document
no longer than 5 pages!

Step 2:

Create a pitch video of maximum 3 minutes presenting your app mock-up and explaining how the app would contribute to solving one of the problems above.

Step 3:

Submit all materials in English by 10 October 2022 using the upload form at the bottom of this webpage.

The idea behind creating an app mock-up is to communicate the app’s design, flow, and functions. To create a quality mock-up, make sure you consider the following points:

Understanding the problem

The first step in creating the app mock-up is ensuring that the app idea contributes to solving one of the above-mentioned problems.

Identifying key functionalities

Start brainstorming product requirements and list the different features that your app should have. The mock-up should focus on the features that are essential, innovative, and highly relevant to the target audience (e.g., photo feed, comments section, chat).

Creating sketches of the main screens

Once you have figured out the highest priority features, it is time to sketch out your app idea on paper. One of the best ways to start thinking about the user experience is to create a few rough sketches of how the main screens would look and feel.

Turning the sketches into a digital mock-up

Once you have sketched your main screens, you can start designing your digital mock-up based on a simplified outline of your product consisting of boxes, words, lines, and sometimes descriptions. Several online tools provide free templates to build a mock-up (e.g., Uizard, Canva). We do not expect you to develop a test-ready prototype – a digital version of the main screens illustrating the app design and main functionalities is what you should submit.

Award criteria and prize

Students should think outside the box and develop a creative idea and pitch. The best teams will be selected based on the creativity and relevance of their app idea, the technical execution and visual appeal of their mock-up, and the persuasive power of their pitch.

The materials submitted will be reviewed and scored according to the following criteria:

Creativity and uniqueness
There are infinite ways to present and interpret the challenge, let us hear your voice!
Quality of verbal and non-verbal communication

Invest time in thinking and preparing the visuals and the video, including dialogues, shots, and scenery. Every detail should contribute to telling your story.

Technical execution and visual appeal

Make it professional, the viewers will appreciate it.

Clear and compelling expression of message

Help us understand exactly what you mean.

Sincerity and credibility of statement

Everything above is important, but you will only be believed if you believe in what you are presenting.

The app proposals will be evaluated by an expert jury. The best team from each project country will be invited to attend the Women and Girls in STEM Forum in person in Brussels on 26 October 2022. They will stay in Brussels for two nights, get to explore the city, and also visit an important EU institution! All the travel expenses for the selected team and the accompanying teacher will be covered by Girls Go Circular.

The three finalist teams will be given the opportunity to present their app idea during the event. An expert jury will interact with the students, giving them feedback and suggestions.

The winning team will win an app-programming masterclass to turn their mock-up into a fully functioning app!

Teacher’s role in the challenge

As a teacher, you can offer your students the opportunity to participate in the Women and Girls in STEM Forum in Brussels and win a masterclass to further develop their digital skills. Moreover, if a team from your class wins the national selection round and  is invited to Brussels, you will get the chance to accompany them and participate in the event in person (your travel expenses will be covered). Your school will also be offered high-level European visibility during the Women and Girls in STEM Forum.

Please share the information about this challenge with your students, motivate them to participate, and support them in developing their ideas.

Many thanks and see you at the Women and Girls in STEM Forum 2022!

Uploading the materials

Checklist of items to be submitted:

  • The app mock-up as a PDF document (5 pages max).
  • The app pitch video (3 minutes max).
  • The signed statement of consent for personal data processing (the template can be found below).