Celebrating MaCoBioS’s Women in Science

Celebrating MaCoBioS’s Women in Science

If Science is what you like to do, go for it, society and nature need you!

Within MaCoBioS we are very fortunate to have terrific women scientists contributing to our project. These women are in various stages of their academic career and have been essential to the progress we have achieved within MaCoBioS so far. To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science this year, we would like to share their thoughts on what they love about being a scientist and their aspirations and messages for women and girls that want to work in Science in the future.

The best part of being a scientist

One of the most exciting parts of doing science is trying to find answers to different questions and working in a collaborative way. It is a questioning process and we share this process with a lot of different people, who nurture it. Interactions between scientists are particularly encouraged in the MaCoBioS project, as it is based on the collaborative work of interdisciplinary teams of 16 different partners.

“Science is about life-long learning and staying relevant, great opportunities for making a real difference, solving challenges, communicating technical science to stakeholders.” Hazel Oxenford​, Professor of Marine Ecology and Fisheries, University of The West Indies.

“I really enjoy contributing with my own perspectives on issues regarding social justice to the MaCoBioS tasks and being able to understand other scientists’ perceptions, ideas and views of the problems coming from their own background. I feel that in science bringing in different perspectives is very enriching and quite fun!” Fabiola Espinoza, PhD Candidate, Lund University.

Scientific work gives us a systematic and practical way to understand the world around us based on observation and fact. It goes hand in hand with logic and reason. This is powerful, because it gives us a framework to address uncertainties, think through problems and make decisions. Through science, we can contribute to solving the most pressing environmental and socio-economic challenges with the final aim of helping society.

Some of our experts in the field (from left to right): Dr Cindy Cornet, Dr Silvia de Juan, Dr Géraldine Pérez

MaCoBioS is a great opportunity and an exciting challenge as it allows us to be part of a brilliant community of scientists that share knowledge and push towards new insights. We contribute to knowledge on marine ecosystem functioning, essential to conservation, and have great networking opportunities. 

The future of women in science

Generally inclusiveness in science for all minorities remains a challenge. In too many research institutions, permanent positions with high responsibilities are still too often offered to men while women are often in precarious positions. Women still hold less than 20% of senior roles in universities and research centers, for example. As MaCoBioS we need to continue pushing for equal opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This still requires huge efforts; a small part of it is recognizing work done by the female and minority groups in the scientific community, promoting and rewarding those achievements.

Some of our experts on the international scene (from left to right): Emily Boyd - Professor at Lund University, Patricia Ricard - President of the the Paul Ricard Oceanographic Institute

Nonetheless, we hope for a bright and promising future ahead with increasing opportunities for women to be heard and make the world a better place for us all. We have advanced a lot in supporting and encouraging participation of women in science over the last years. We are increasingly leaving behind misconceptions that women are unsuited to science or traditional perceptions of scientists being male and dressed in lab coats. But we need to go a step further. In particular, we need to support women to take key roles in decision making in research (funding or leadership). This should be done not only by raising the quota of women participating in research projects, but by spreading awareness on gender equality and encouraging women to innovate and lead. Many new projects such as MaCoBioS present a large number of brilliant women scientists with diverse backgrounds.

Our message to girls that want to become scientists

Science is as diverse as the people who work within it covering topics commonly studied at school such as biology and chemistry through to social and political science and everything in between. Increasingly the lines between these topics are blurred and they integrate all sorts of methods from fieldwork to mathematics and computer science. There are also all kinds of scientists, if you are curious and always looking to learn more you can definitely become one. Continue to be curious, anytime, everywhere, always! Let your eyes and mind always be surprised by new discoveries and experiences. This will allow you to be always eager for new knowledge.

“Science is a beautiful path but one that isn’t easy and you need to be prepared to overcome many obstacles on your way. Sometimes you will succeed but others you won´t. The key is perseverance and resilience.” Dr Gema Casal, Postdoctoral Researcher, Maynooth University

However, becoming a scientist requires a lot of work and a bit of luck. You need to be rigorous, patient and surrounded by the right people who will support you not only in your research work, but also emotionally and financially. Here are a few tips from our experience: 1. Network from the start – opportunities come to those who are known! 2. Think local – Find your local issues, team up with experts around the corner, and take on tractable research questions. 3. Keep up and constantly improve your maths and communication skills – transferable skills are key!

“Becoming a scientist is tough no matter your gender, but still even more so for women, BUT if it is your dream, don’t let gender matters or anything else hold you back and go for it!” Dr. Cindy Cornet, Research Fellow, University of Portsmouth

If science is your passion you need to follow it, no matter if your field is filled with mostly men or older generations. Try to convert these challenges into opportunities, and to be a source of inspiration embracing your femininity, knowledge and skills. Be strong and brave, work in teams, fulfill your ideas and work for achieving your objectives and goals. Believe in yourself, be curious and explore areas that interest you.  Especially, don’t hold back, don’t doubt yourself. Go ahead, we need you!

Find out more about our team of amazing women by checking out our ‘Meet our Experts’  page.

Text by: Elena Allegri, Mialy Andriamahefazafy, Emily Boyd, Gema Casal, Cindy Cornet, Karima Degia, Fabiola Espinoza, Catarina Fonseca, Elisa Furlan, Silvia de Juan, Alicia N’Guetta, Géraldine Pérez, Bethan O’Leary, Hazel Oxenford, Patricia Ricard, Louisa Wood

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