On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we gathered three IVIRMA scientists to discuss the issue of gender and the need for role models to ensure that the scientific field is as plural as possible. Together, they reached a conclusion based on their life experience: "the influence of parents, teachers and mentors are essential when it comes to promoting interest in this field".
At IVIRMA today, more than ever, we would like to do our part to highlight these three women, leaders in their field and an inspiration for young girls in the future. They are Dr. Elena Labarta, a Gynaecologist who specializes in Reproductive Medicine; Dr. Arancha Galán, Assistant Director of the IVF Laboratory and Dr. Vanessa Vergara, a Gynaecologist who specializes in Reproductive Medicine, Medical Director of Iberia and LATAM and Global Director of Patient Safety.
The road to science in women's terms
Science is observed, learned and transmitted to others. All three women agree on this. Arancha, whose parents are both doctors, saw it clearly from the beginning: she wanted to continue in her family's footsteps. Her parents shared their research at home and commented passionately about their achievements on a daily basis. Based on her own experience, this embryologist is convinced that more can still be done to motivate girls to choose this path, especially at home: "educating from an early age in equality is vital for girls to know that they can fully develop in any field they desire, including science."
Vanessa, in turn, was lucky enough to become involved in science at her school, an educational center where science was one of the main areas. Here, all students were encouraged to focus their efforts on scientific results, regardless of their gender or status. "During my pre-teen years, I was given very important positive reinforcement. I excelled at everything that had to do with science, and my teachers encouraged me to continue along that path," recalls the doctor.
Elena, meanwhile, was motivated by the philanthropy to make this world a better place. She ended up studying medicine in order to help those most in need, and she admired the passionate doctors she met in her classes and in the beginning of her professional career. Science took her down the path of assisted reproduction where she has made invaluable contributions, thereby improving the reproductive health of women all over the world. In the words of the gynecologist, "above all, in this field we must possess a spirit of inquiry and enthusiasm for discovering things. This is where we must focus on working with children, on motivating them to do research".
Expectations vs Reality
Of course, all three women believe that the expectations are very limited in comparison with the reality in science. They do agree, however, on some improvements that can make the scientific field more successful in welcoming the women of the future.
They acknowledge that increasingly more women have an outstanding career and reach leadership positions in the scientific area. If they could improve one thing, however, it would be the family-work balance. "Sometimes being a mother is incompatible with your research career and this must change. We speak from experience...". Nevertheless, they all coincide that it is only a question of time before this is resolved, because as a society we are making giant strides in this area.
We also asked them what they would say to their younger selves and these were their responses
"Never lose your curiosity and enthusiasm, because with passion you will achieve great things" Dr. Elena Labarta
“Continue your path and don’t lose focus. You have a good eye”, Dra. Arancha Galán
“Never be afraid of anything, because you can do anything you set your mind to,” Dr. Vanessa Vergara.
What will you do now that you have read this post? Can you do something to make science more accessible and pluralistic? At IVIRMA we are committed to providing equal access to all women and men of the future. Plural science is more participatory and integrative, and these attributes are fundamental to finding the path to a fulfilling and healthy society.