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The UB joins the International Day of Women and Girls in Science





Science and gender equality are essential for the sustainable development. However, women are still finding obstacles in the field of science: less than 30% of science researchers in the world are women. Given this situation, in 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared February 11 the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, willing to promote the full and equal access and participation of women and girls in science.

Like every year, the University of Barcelona joins this day with the push of the Vice-rector’s Offices of Equality and Gender, and Research, and thanks to the tasks carried out by the Equality Unit. They prepare this event with several activities –which will be held online this year, dur to the pandemic–, that will take place between February 7 and 11. The complete activity program is available here.

The main activity will be the roundtable “Vull ser científica: nenes i dones en la ciència” (I want to be a scientist: girls and women in science), to be held in the Aula Magna of the Historical Building, on February 11, at 12 noon. The vice-rector for Equality and Gender, Montserrat Puig, will present the activity, which can be followed on UBtv. Carlos Ciudad, professor and president of the Equality Committee of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences, will chair the session. Participants are Meritxell Rovira, from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL); Anna Puig, from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science of the UB; Irene Ferri, from the Faculty of Physics of the UB, and Núria Salan, from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering of UPC. This activity intends to highlight the invisibility of female scientists’ contributions, which leads to girls having no role models in this field. This is why the session has been understood as a dialogue in which the speakers will tell about their research and experience in their career to four girls (Gianna, Lorna, Sílvia and Gina).

A wide range of online activities

Apart from the main event, several faculties and research institutes of the UB celebrate the commemoration on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The faculties of Earth Sciences, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, in collaboration with the research institutes IBUB, IN2UB, ICCUB, IQTCUB, IdRA, UBICS and Geomodels, are organizing a dual program. On the one hand, on February 7, 8 and 9, the documentary Picture a scientist (Sharon Shattuck and Ian Cheney, 2020) will be available online. In this documentary, science figures such as the biologist Nancy Hopkins, the chemist Raychelle Burks and the geologist Jane Willenbring talk about their experiences in the field of science –in which they have faced harassment, institutional discrimination and many years of underestimation– to revolutionize the scientific culture. The documentary has been screned in many universities and leading centers worldwide (such as Harvard or NASA), and this is the first time it arrives in Spain. Those interested have to register through this form, until February 8.

On Thursday, February 11, at 3 p.m., the conference “Modelització de la COVID-19 des d’una perspectiva de sistemes complexos” will be given by Clara Granell (Rovira i Virgili University), followed by a roundtable titled “Accions per visibilitzar el treball de les dones científiques”. These two activities will be available through this link.

Also, on February 11, the Institute of Neurosciences organizes the Women in Neuroscience Virtual Symposium, aiming to highlight the importance of the contributions by women in recent neuroscientific advances and recognize the difficulties and challenges they faced during their scientific career. The symposium is organized by PhD students of the Research Group on Cognitive Neuroscience (BrainLab). This activity is free but registration through this form is required before February 8.

The Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IN2UB) will carry out several actions through their Youtube channel. From February 11 to March 8, they will publish videos by IN2UB women scientists, titled “Les científiques de l’Institut”. In these videos, the experts will talk about their research and the implications of being a woman and working in the scientific field. Also, the series “Les entrevistes de l’IN2UB” will launch in collaboration with Centre Cívic Pere IV (Barcelona), on February 11, with interviews to the research staff in IN2UB.

On Saturday, February 13, the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB) is organizing the conference “Els orígens de l’astrofísica”, by Jordi Miralda-Escudé, ICREA researcher at ICCUB. It will take place at 7 p.m. and will be live streamed on the ICCUB Youtube channel. The conference will show how female scientists who worked on astronomy played an essential role as soon as they were offered an opportunity.

Outside the University of Barcelona, Mercè Bernardo, lecturer at the Department of Business, will take part in the 1st Conference of Women in Science, organized by the de Dones Investigadores i Tecnòlogues a Catalunya (association for women in science and engineering, AMIT-Cat). The activity, to be broadcasted through the entity’s Youtube channel, will take place on February 8, from 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. and the session will be closed by Sònia Estradé, president of AMIT-Cat and lecturer at the Department of Electronic and Biomedical Engineering of the UB. The program is available here.

Dissemination in schools

Last, the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i), with the support of the rector’s delegate for scientific dissemination, Gemma Marfany, launches the activity “De nenes a científiques” (from girls to scientists). The initiative is offered to primary education centers and it aims to make visible the women scientists and promote research among girls.

Through a video, five women scientists of the UB who are in different professional and personal moments of their careers talk to those children in primary schools, specially the girls, and share their personal story. These are Alba Ortega, from the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology; Rocío García, from the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics; Meritxell Simó, from the Department of Classical, Romance and Semitic Languages; Maite López, from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and Anna Sánchez Vidal, from the Department of Earth and Ocean Dynamics.

The activity intends to generate debate in the classroom, and it asks schools to bring back those proposals made by the students in order to avoid repetitions in current patterns and solve the problem the video presents: how could there be as many women as men doing research? The most creative answer will be part of the UB logo for next year’s February 11. Also, all schools taking part in it will receive a gratitude video and the answer by a scientist. More information available in the UCC+i website.


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