During the TWIST project activities in the Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem, TWISTY, the virtual puppet, was talking about science and gender with variety audiences – elementary & secondary school students, adults, ultra-orthodox Jews and women from the Arab sector. It seems that all of them were very comfortable talking about sensitive issues like stereotypes and prejudices about women in science.
We were surprised that TWISTY was a great success especially with the women from the Arab sector from East Jerusalem - a very conservative population. The TWISTY operator was an Arab explainer (male) that was familiar with the common perceptions about women in science. During the conversations with TWISTY sensitive issues were raised. For example the perception that an academic woman will face difficulties to find "matchmaking" since a wife can't be more educated than her husband. One of the women told a personal story about her daughter. She was an excellent student at school and wanted to learn Biology in the university, but her fiancé refused to let her learning. The daughter insisted and didn’t give up and after long discussions between the two families, they reached a compromised agreement - she will learn in the university but her fiancé will drive her to the university and back home. By that, he will ensure she is not meeting other men.
After the conversation with TWISTY, the woman asked to meet personally with the operator. She told him that now, after few years, her daughter is married happily. She is a science coordinator at a secondary school and she even succeeded to convince her husband to study in the university as well.