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Students, teachers, principals, diplomats, leaders, and astrophysicists, welcomed by director Pietro Schipani, gathered on March 22 at the auditorium of the Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory, the Neapolitan department of the National Institute of Astrophysics and the most important Italian research center in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, and space studies.

“Feel, find, fight gender stereotypes” is part of the project “The fight against gender stereotypes begins in a classroom.” Training courses for teachers and educational activities available in English to students worldwide have been studied and developed to combat these stereotypes and involve more young female students in STEM disciplines (acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Clementina Sasso and Silvia Galano listening to the president of the Inner Wheel of Torre del Greco and Comuni Vesuviani and the former governor Bianca Ceva Grimaldi De Stefano.

An Italian astrophysicist from the INAF (National Institute of Astrophysics) at the Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory, Clementina Sasso, is the originator. Present at Cape Canaveral in Florida for the ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA’s Solar Orbiter space mission, launched on February 10, 2020, she was then contacted by the United States Consulate in Naples, which enrolled her in a professional exchange program funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.

An annual competition is planned, which would select a particularly effective activity. The dynamism of Clementina Sasso and the creativity of her colleague, physicist Silvia Galano, from the Pancini department at the University of Naples Federico II, are convincing.

Sponsored by the US diplomatic mission in Italy and the International Astronomical Union, supported by the INAF of the Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory and by the Department of Physics of the University of Naples Federico II, the project also benefits from the active collaboration of the Innerwheel Club of Torre del Greco and Comuni Vesuviani.

The American Consul in Naples Tracy Roberts-Pounds is satisfied with the work done to date.

Stereotypes, Clementina Sasso reveals, are often unconsciously and deeply rooted in culture and are the basis of obvious gender inequalities. Toys, jobs, sports, and colors are irremediably associated with one sex or the other and affect each of us, man or woman. These stereotypes undeniably limit any ability to choose a field of study or training, the aspiration to a professional career, or a simple life choice, like the mundane practice of a hobby. Antonio Pescapé, delegate of the University of Naples Federico II, denounces a major impact when stereotypes also target people belonging to ethnic minorities or different races. The different identities of each can make them potential victims of discrimination and limit their freedom.

The US Consul General in Naples, Tracy Roberts-Pounds, is pleased with the smooth running of the project and the results that follow, part of a current encouraging trend for women, at a global level.

The president of the Innerwheel, Lucia Ascione, highlights the major ease with which young women who opt for scientific branches find well-paid jobs. The former governor, Bianca Ceva Grimaldi De Stefano, emotionally urges the young people present in the room, girls or boys, to project their future well.

Principals and their students, already familiar with the courses and activities available online, testify with enthusiasm. From the observatory, the view overlooks the city and slides towards the Mediterranean. The world needs more than ever the vital forces that support it and the intelligence of the billions of individuals who constitute it, men and women, to project the future.

Lucia Lopez President of the Inner Wheel of Torre del Greco and Comuni Vesuviani presenting the American Consul with the club’s pennant of Torre del Greco and Comuni Vesuviani.