'The world needs science, and science needs women,' says UNESCO. What do women in science need?
Despite great progress in recent years, writes FEBS Letters Reviews Editor Lavinia Arseni in this Scientists' Forum article following an International Women's Day panel with 5 outstanding female scientists, gender equity in science is still missing.
Women are underrepresented in senior/leadership positions and struggle to be funded and awarded. Social norms, gender bias, stereotypes in education, and lack of support for the family are just some of the issues that need to be addressed to revert this trend. Historically, many women have been overshadowed by their men colleagues. Although it is hard to give the deserved credit to all women who went unnoticed for centuries, it is time to properly recognize the growing number of them who succeeded in science despite the challenges. These women can inspire many more who intend to make of science their future.
On the occasion of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg launched a campaign featuring outstanding female scientists working in the institute. This campaign featured a hybrid panel discussion open to the public and all DKFZ employees on International Women's Day 2023.
On the panel, moderated by Head of DKFZ Career Service & Alumni Relations Barbara Janssens, these five women—scientists and mothers—shared their personal experience and perspectives on gender equality and diversity in research:
- Hedda Wardemann, Head of Division of B Cell Immunology.
- Arlou Kristina Angeles, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Division of Cancer Genome Research.
- Pei-Chi Wei, Junior Group Leader of Helmholtz Young Investigator Group Brain Mosaicism and Tumorigenesis.
- Angelika Feldmann, Junior Group Leader of Helmholtz Young Investigator Group of Mechanisms of Genome Control.
- Marieke Essers, Leader of the Division of Inflammatory Stress in Stem Cells.
The panelists respond to the following questions:
- Women seem to lack confidence more than men. What is your opinion on this matter?
- What can women do to feel more confident? What changes are needed in academia to make the scientific career more appealing to women?
- Have you ever felt pressure to behave more like a man?
- How do you deal with unconscious bias?
- Which is the biggest challenge you had to face?
Read the full discussion in FEBS Letters.
The Scientists' Forum is a unique series from FEBS Letters that features news articles, interviews, or letters to the editors showcasing researchers' perspectives on science and society. The Scientists' Forum has presented commentary on science policy, ethics, art, communication, industry.
Arseni, Lavinia (2023). 'The world needs science, and science needs women'…but what do women in science need? – interviews and panel discussion with 5 outstanding female scientists. FEBS Lett, Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/1873-3468.14634.