The role of women in science: solutions to inequality data

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The mirror effect works, we need more female references in textbooks, make the contributions of women in science visible in the media and ensure their presence in major projects and scientific awards. Let's show our girls that they too can be capable of achieving anything they set their minds to.

11F an opportunity to delve into inequality data and look for solutions
Researcher in a laboratory. / Adobe Sotck

Maria Mayan

Yesterday was celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. An opportunity to make visible the contributions of women scientists in the world, recognize their talent and promote scientific vocations. Also to make visible those obstacles that today still prevent us from using all human potential to grow as a society and be able to provide solutions to the great challenges we face, such as the covid-19 pandemic, the that we have emerged largely thanks to the talent and previous work of two great references: Katalin Karikó and Sarah Gilbert.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an opportunity to make visible the contributions of women scientists in the world, recognize their talent and promote scientific vocations. Also to make obstacles visible

The female gender represents half of the world's population and therefore we are half of its potential. However, the way our ancestors have lived has conditioned how we judge ourselves in the current context.

Despite the cultural and socioeconomic change that modern societies have undergone in the last 30 years, the public role has barely changed, and new generations of men continue to have the same employment guidelines than their parents and grandparents, with high employment rates throughout their life cycle, but without the main supporting role in the family environment.

In this sense, society has adapted more quickly in the private sphere where men are beginning to actively participate in domestic tasks and care of minors and family dependents. However, the involvement figures are still not as desired. On the other hand, in the public sphere, the labor market remains anchored in patterns of the past, contributing to gender inequality in labor relations.

An unbalanced conciliation 

Co-responsibility is the way and an unbalanced conciliation is one of the problems that we should solve from the work environment, to be able to make use of all human potential and achieve more sustainable, fair and peaceful societies. One has to humanize work improving conditions, including conciliation conditions. We need measures that allow family care and that pregnancy does not represent a barrier to a research career. Small gestures such as daycare centers in the workplace or strategic financial aid could help improve the data we manage.

We need measures that allow family care and that a pregnancy does not represent a barrier in the research career

Women deserve the same salary for the same work, these types of measures not only help to value equally the work that women and men do, they could also undoubtedly help to combat the sad figures of harassment and violence against women, which unfortunately is not alien to the scientific and technological field. .

Gender biases that influence decisions

One of the most relevant barriers that women have to address throughout our working lives are the gender biases and stereotypes that condition the decisions that are made both on a personal level and when we are evaluating a contract or a research project. They are influences of the education and messages that we receive, and that together we must combat consciously.

There are numerous studies published in prestigious scientific journals such as Nature either Science that demonstrate the effect of gender biases and roles in scientific careers or in the minimal presence of women in textbooks, leadership positions, in prestigious awards or coordinating large research projects. The most famous study is the study carried out at Yale University with an identical resume that demonstrates the difference in opportunities that exists between being called John and Jennifer.

There are numerous studies that demonstrate the effect of biases and gender roles in science or the minimal presence of women in textbooks.

Despite the data, there is a perception that in a few years equality will be achieved, or that the numbers are improving. This perception is probably due to the fact that in recent years there has been more talk about inequality in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) field and current problems are made visible.

The data is getting worse

Instead, the data shows that not only are no improvements expected in the coming years, but the data is getting worse. 9/11 is necessary, but concrete actions and political measures are needed to promote equal opportunities. We began, for the first time in 20 years, to lose women in the early stages of their research careers.

Promote education in gender equality and ensure that men and women have the same representation in leadership positions and decision-making is not giving anything to women, it is actively promoting gender equality in the scientific career and in the workplace.

We need political actions and measures that promote equal opportunities. We began, for the first time in 20 years, to lose women in the early stages of their research careers

We have a problem, so we must try to inform ourselves, search for studies and delve into them, and raise awareness so we can work together on solutions.

Nowadays a photo in which only men appear and there is no female representation should seem strange to us. The mirror effect works, we need more female references in textbooks, make visible the contributions of women in science in the media and ensure their presence in major projects and scientific awards. Let's show our girls that they too can be capable of achieving anything they set their minds to. Breaking social barriers and the glass ceiling is a job that we all have to do together.

María Mayán is Group Chief Researcher at INIBIC (A Coruña) and Women and Science Coordinator of the Spanish Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM).

 
 
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