“It also happens in science”, campaign to make visible situations of gender inequality in science

“Oh, but you’re the boss?” A phrase and a surprised face that speak for themselves. The investigator cannot believe what he has just discovered: a young woman is the leader of his new international research project. Real experiences like this are the basis of the motto “In science it also happens”, the campaign that Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) launches this week in celebration of the World Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The campaign was created from 47 real experiences that CREAF employees shared anonymously.

The project features a collection of satirical caricatures illustrated by Javier Royo representing different situations gender inequality commonly experienced in the scientific world. from the hand of hashtags #here, each of these vignettes seeks to attract men and women, and research centers to join this debate and give visibility to the unlikely – but true – situations that occur in the scientific field.

With 14 provocative illustrations, CREAF and Javier Royo give voice to their own real experiences that some women felt invisibledrowned by imposter syndrome s underrated under the influence of mansplaining. Several situations in which they were prejudiced as scientists because of their gender, they were discriminated against and their leadership capacity was questioned because of their physical condition, their pregnancy or their implied burden of care.

The campaign, led by the center’s equality and diversity committee and communications department, was created from 47 real experiences that center staff shared anonymously. They have been the source of inspiration for the illustrator. In this way, CREAF wants to take the first step to eliminate the obstacle race that the women of the research world have to overcome, recognizing the discrimination that occurs in the center itself.

Vignette of the campaign “Science also happens”. / CREAF | Javier Royo

imposter syndromeprejudice and mansplaining

“I have such a brutal imposter syndrome that I am often not even aware of the inequalities that I may have suffered as a woman”, so clear and forceful is one of the experiences collected for the campaign.

This syndrome is related low self esteem, and implies that people who suffer from it believe that they do not deserve the achievements they achieve. In science it is a situation that occurs very often. In 2021, an article was published that concluded that female scientists can feel more imposter than men when they realize that their academic discipline demands talent or be bright to have success.

“Brilliant, ace and genius are the adjectives used to describe my colleagues; we, on the other hand, are hardworking, meticulous, or responsible. It seems that generosity and dedication characterize women scientists above their intellectual or creative capacities.”

Among the experiences collected, external prejudices and those that each one imposes on himself also emerged in several depositions. The experiences of mansplaining were the most repeated. In these situations, the male scientist answers questions that were first addressed to a woman or explains concepts to a female scientist using a patronizing and condescending tone.

Need for a diverse scientific system

Finally, CREAF, as a research center in terrestrial ecology, global change, Earth observation and biodiversity, accompanies the collection with a final illustration that affirms the need and advantages of having as diverse a system as possible. In all previous vignettes, #aquipasa highlights the hostility of a productive scientific system, loaded with prejudices and that does not welcome or promote the diversity of existing scientific profiles.

“As ecologists, we are very clear that biodiversity is critical to maintaining a strong and resilient nature. Despite this, we do not see this logic being applied to people who do science,” he comments. Teresa Rosasresponsible for talent and gender at CREAF.

“Just as in order to maintain a great wealth of species in an ecosystem it is necessary to create favorable conditions for their survival, we need to take urgent measures in the scientific environment to increase their diversity; this happens by creating inclusive work environments, where half of the population also feels welcomed”, he concludes.

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