The International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On February the 11th of 2015, The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls as well as to try to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of them. Nowadays, data show us a discouraging glass ceiling for women in the scientific area that complicates the normal progression and the acquisition of fix positions for researchers in that field. So yes, seems that we live in an unfair society where women not only face more obstacles when developing their career but also where furthermore their work is not recognized as it should. However, science has always been the core of the development and women have played a crucial role in it. Proof of this are:

  • Marie Curie: French chemical that discovered 2 elements of the periodic table and the very first person who was awarded with 2 Noble prizes (Physics and Chemistry ones). In addition, she was the first professor at University of Paris.

Marie Curie
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  • Rosalind Franklin: British chemical and crystallographer which contribution was essential to discover DNA structure.

Rosalind Franklin
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  • Valentina Tereshkova: Russian cosmonaut that became the first woman to travel into space aboard Vostok 6 in 1963, although she wasn’t allow to take the lead because of the fact she was a woman.

Valentina Tereshkova
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  • Rita Levi – Montalcini: Italo-american medical profesional and neurologist awarded with Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1986 for her discover of a protein that stimulates nerve cell growth, vital insight for the neurosciences.

Rita Levi- Montalcini
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  • Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: British–American astronomer and astrophysicist who, in 1925, proposed in her Ph.D. thesis an explanation for the composition of stars in terms of the relative abundances of hydrogen and helium challenging all the current knowledge. She was the first woman to obtain a PhD degree at Harvard University and also became the first woman to be promoted to full professor there.

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  • Margarita Salas: Spanish biochemical and molecular biologist that not only brought this field of study to Spain but also discovered and characterized the Φ29 phage DNA polymerase, crucial contribution to Biochemistry and Molecular Biology knowledge.

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  • Françoise Barré-Sinoussi: French virologist and immunologist awarded in 2008 with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her contribution to the discover of the HIV.

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  • María Blasco: Spanish biologist mentor in the study of telomeres (chromosomes’ extremes) and cellular aging. Current director of CNIO one of the most important research centers related with cancer investigations.

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  • Emmanuelle Charpentier: French microbiologist and biochemical that nowadays manages Max Planck institute of Infection Biology in Berlin (Germany). Known for her influence on the deciphering of molecular mechanisms of the immune bacterial system CRISPR-Cas9 and its application as a molecular tool at genome editing.

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However, they are just a few of the great amount of women researchers that have make a difference to the world. So, let’s continue fighting for achieve an equal science in where women see their work emphasized as it should, where they have worthy and decent conditions and where they don’t find obstacles while developing their professional career. Plenty of things have already done, that’s true, nevertheless there is still much to do. So I encourage any woman or girl who want to do science or to contribute to the research in any way ¡to do it! Because it is not an easy labour, definitely, but it’s terrible fascinating and exciting and we are changing the world. ¡¡Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!!

#11thFebruary #WomenInScience #ScientistWomen #InternationalDayOfWomenAndGirlInScience

By Lidia Blanco Sánchez, 

from the Spanish Association of Biology Students

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