Women and science: the debate

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Women and science: the debate

Madrid, Wednesday, 14th December, 2016. Supporting and lending visibility to the work of African women researchers, promoting their presence and prestige in the international scientific community, and fostering exchange and networking among women scientists are all aims of the Women for Africa Foundation’s project “Science by Women”.

Yesterday, the results of this programme were discussed in the 2nd Conference on Women, Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa, an event which also debated the situation for research carried out by women in Europe and Africa after the biennial meeting of the “Science by Women” Scientific Committee.

Moderated by the UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality Policies in Science, Inés Sánchez de Madariaga; the Vice President for Research, Cooperation and Partnerships at the Mohammed V-Agdal University, Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli; the beneficiary of the “Science by Women” programme in ICMAT, Coumba Niang; and the beneficiary of the MxA Foundation’s scholarships programme in the University of La Rioja, Olouwafêmi Mistourath Mama.

During the debate it became apparent that although there are differences among the different countries, women around the world continue to face common difficulties in following a career in the field of research. The importance of continuing to fight gender discrimination was underlined because equality is the main engine for progress in societies from a scientific point of view, too.

At the event yesterday, the president of the Women for Africa Foundation, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, stressed the extraordinary potential of African women researchers. She explained that in the second call by “Science by Women”, 46 candidates applied from 17 countries, meaning an increase of 50% compared to the first edition. In the end, 8 women researchers have been selected. In 2017, they will begin to enter the Spanish institutions collaborating in the programme.

It should be remembered that in the first edition of “Science by Women” another 8 senior women scientists were chosen for sabbatical stays of six months in Spanish research centres where they are contributing with their knowledge and experience in the teams that already exist in those centres while also acquiring new knowledge that they will take back and convey to their respective working environments.

During the Scientific Committee’s meeting beforehand, the incorporation of the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) was formalised, joining the other seven that already form part of the programme: the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB), the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT), the Carlos III Health Institute, the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG), and the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (BGSE).

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