Women in research: from the "mamoneo" of squares to "optimism" to reach real equality

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'Barometer Youth and Gender'

Both in Spain and abroad, the scientific researchers assure that there is still a way to go towards gender equality although it has been improved

One of the researchers of the Hospital of Santa Creu i Sant Pau in ...

One of the researchers of the Hospital of Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona
E.M.

"In my first job interview they told me they did not hire me because I was a woman." IsLola Pereira, PhD in Geology by theUniversity of Salamancaand vice president of theAssociation of Women Researchers and Technologists. As he remembers his first steps in the world of research. And he continues: "The first time I ask a project to theJunta de Castilla y Lenthey told me it was very good but they gave it to me if someone else signed it. "A man, it was 1995 and that was" the snooping "of scientific research, two decades later" we have improved but we still need equality ".

That was the situation of a discipline that young people between 15 and 29 years now place at the midpoint of equality between men and women by the attribution of professional qualities, according to the data of theBarometer Youth and Genderof theHelp Against Drug Addiction Foundation(FAD). A perception that is not endorsed in the data of theMinistry of Science and Universities, at least in positions of power.

According to the studyScientists in Figuresof 2017 -the last year with data-, 39% of the research staff in Spain are women. A figure that amounts to 48% in the entire Public Administration, to 43% in universities and down to 31% in private companies.

Ah the numbers confirm the idea of ​​young people on the sector, a trend that does not happen when you climb the ladder of command: in Grade A -catagora of higher rank- only 21% of the faculty members in the universities, the 25% inPublic Research Organizations(OPI) and 28% in private universities.

"Smaller projects"

"In my center there are 20 laboratories and only four are run by women," she says.Andrea Daz, a predoctoral researcher inCancer Research Centerof Salamanca. "They also run emerging groups that are smaller projects with less funding," he adds.

A situation in which many of the researchers consulted by this newspaper who develop or have developed their work coincideSpainand abroad. "My three previous bosses have been women, although that's something exceptional," she says.Roco Prez, researcher inHospital of Santa Creu i Sant PauofBarcelonaand PhD in Biology, that after five years inNew Yorkconsiders that the situation there was "more equal" in terms of command posts.

Do not share that perceptionArantxa Vilalta-Clemente, doctor in Qumica, after passing throughGreece, theOxford UniversityinUKand his current stay at theInstitute P. PrimeofPoitiersinFrance. "When I was in Oxford Materials between 2012 and 2016 the proportion was only a woman of 15 people although now they have incorporated more women," she said in a telephone conversation.

Given this situation, what is the reason that young people perceive equality in the sector and that it does not occur? To the first part of the question responds Lola Pereira: "There are many women who are dedicated to the field of research, but in the lowest or intermediate positions." In the second part two variants arise: "patriarchy" and combine personal life issues such as motherhood with professional development.

"In this world, when you leave, it is very difficult to go back because it costs you to get funding and you stop publishing and normally being a mother, it is the women who turn away and find it difficult to return," he argues.ngela Martnez, predoctoral researcher at Ciencas Agrarias en laCastilla-La Mancha university. "As in almost all sectors, but even more complicated," he adds.

"Optimism" of the future

For that reason,Marta Abelln, doctor in Sciences Qumica and researcher in theHigher School of Physics and ChemistryofPars, believes that we should continue to bet on the quota system to reach an equal point in the sector. "We have to keep going that way, but above all we have to educate the generations that are arriving". And it also raises a debate on these quotas: "On the one hand it is positive, but there will always be those who ask if that woman has arrived there by merit when the majority have more than enough".

Although all these women appreciate the inequality in their sector, they are aware that the situation has improved over the years and they are "optimistic" in the face of real equality in the future. "We are talking about a generation with a different way of seeing things," explains Ngela Martnez. "I'm more optimistic than ten years ago when I started doing this," says Roco Prez.

However, all of them agree that this change does not occur immediately. "I hope that in 10 years there is a real parity in positions as dean for example but that it is so immediate I see it complicated," says Arantxa Vilalta-Clemente, although the entry of more women has paved that path a bit. "It helps to have women who act as mentors for the new generations that are coming in. I did not have it and cases like the one before were silent, but now it will be denounced," concludes Lola Pereira.

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(tagsToTranslate) Spain (t) health – medical research (t) Public Research Organizations (t) Spain (t) woman (t) Lola Pereira (t) United Kingdom (t) Greece (t) science (t) bioscience

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