This week, the world will celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11, which aims to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. As part of this effort, Gender STI has launched its own #WomenInScience campaign. We talked to researchers and experts, both men and women, about why they got involved in science, what they think about current statistics on women researchers and what they think needs to be done to encourage more women and girls to pursue scientific careers.
It is well known that work-life balance is a big challenge facing #WomenInScience. Some women even might feel that they have to choose between following their scientific dreams and having a family. Silvia Kochen, a neuroscience researcher at CONICET and an extraordinary woman in science, has a message for women and girls: Fight for everything you want.
What is your job position and what science field do you work in? What does your job entail?
I am the director of the Neurosciences and Complex Systems Unit that depends on the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas de Argentina (CONICET). I am a researcher at CONICET and a professor at the School of Medicine of the Universidad de Buenos Aires and the Universidad Nacional Arturo Jauretche. In addition, I am the Secretary of the Argentine Network of Gender Science and Technology (RAGCyT).
My work is in the field of human neurosciences, specifically in epilepsy and cognition.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in science, and specifically in your scientific field?
I have always been interested in how the brain works in humans. I am also concerned about what it can do to help create better health conditions and what happens when it fails.
According to the United Nations, currently less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. What do you think about that?
Despite the progress made by our struggles and those of the women who preceded us, we continue to live in a patriarchal world, in which women are not allowed to enter any workplace, social or even personal space under conditions of equality. This also happens in the scientific world.
What would you tell young girls and women who are interested in pursuing a career in science?
Do everything possible and impossible to join the world of science. Fight for everything you want and don’t choose between being mothers, if you want to, being researchers, being friends, being lovers, etc.
What message would you send to the public on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science?
The future is today, and without the participation of women and girls, the advancement of science is not possible. This is crucial to be able to live in a just and solidary world in which we can all be happy.