14.03.2017

The DCEXS fights for gender equality in its research

The Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (DCEXS) is strongly committed to gender equality. As a proof, the Maria de Maeztu Program includes, since 2016, a Gender Action Plan with specific funding to help female researchers in pursuing and consolidating their scientific career.

Twice a year, the DCEXS launches a call to provide financial assistance to young, talented and motivated mothers. It consists of a scholarship of up to € 200 per month for one academic year, with a renewal possibility in the following year. This spring, the winner of the aid was Selma Serra, a postdoctoral researcher at the Molecular Physiology Laboratory. "Since I am mother, the path to persevere in my scientific career has not been easy. It is difficult to find a balance between research and motherhood without giving up in spending less time with the children, rely on outside help and, above all, find extra hours to do the work by renouncing to sleep hours. The Gender Action Plan will help me to reconcile the worlds of work and family, investing in time and quality of life. I hope this has an impact on the well-being of my whole family and improves my performance as a mother and a scientist, "says Selma Serra.

According to data from UNESCO, women are still underrepresented in research and development in all regions of the world. Although in Spain the degree students in the field of sciences are mostly women, when it comes to developing the scientific career the female sector only accounts for 39% of all researchers. There are numerous obstacles associated with these educational trajectories, from the stereotypes that surround girls to the family responsibilities and the prejudices that women face when choosing their field of study.

"With this help the DCEXS seeks to make our young women in science able to combine a successful career with their motherhood," says Eulàlia de Nadal, academic secretary of the Department, responsible for research and transfer and coordinator of the Gender Action Plan program.

Researchers Clara Serra, Inna Povolotskaya, Angela Leis and Sojung Han were winners in previous editions. "This fellowship helps me to conciliate my personnel and familial life with my scientific career. Although it is not always a question of money (I personally think it is mostly a question of time and work flexibility) I must say than an economical supplement allows me to combine better both personnel and professional aspects of my life. As an example, with this fellowship I hire a babysitter for some mornings to bring my little child to kindergarten; that way, I can start working earlier to accomplish with all may work responsibility and go back home earlier in the afternoon to spend time with my son", concludes Clara Serra.