MONTERREY, Nuevo León – For the first time, Tec de Monterrey has held a panel on Women in Science during its Research and Development Conference. Taking part were Ada Yonath, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Leticia Torres Guerra, Director General of the Advanced Materials Research Center (CIMAV), and Dora Elvira García González, Level 3 Researcher in the National Research System (SNI), Associate Dean of Research, and winner of the 2019 Insignia Award for her career.
These female researchers shared their experiences during the event, as well as what has challenged and motivated them throughout their careers.
Ana Yonath said she never imagined she would end up becoming a scientist, as she really wanted to write books.
“I really wanted to write. However, I realized I wasn’t good enough when I tried, so I chose science instead. It was a hobby and I thought I wouldn’t get paid for it,” said the Nobel prizewinner.
Leticia Torres said her father believed that only men should study, and women had to find good husbands and become housewives. What’s more, her family set aside a large part of its income for her brother’s education.
“My parents wanted my brother to study at the Tec with a 50% scholarship. That’s when I realized that there were some opportunities for men and others for women, so I had to study at the University of Nuevo León,” she said.
She believes that closing the gender gap in science necessitates the empowerment of women from when they are girls and that academic institutions should have more programs for mentoring them for 10 years or more.
“When I became a Level 3 Researcher, I was the first woman to do it. Someone asked me why I’d been given this status and how I could know more than a man. I answered that it had cost me double or triple the effort it had cost him,” she added.
Researcher Dora Elvira García said she encourages her colleagues to develop networks of solidarity and fraternity, above all when they decide to have children. She’s certain that these collaborative networks also allowed her to advance in her career and keep up with her family.
“This gap has to do with a series of exclusions and it’s in our culture. It’s not just something that men do. We women also raise our children with these beliefs,” she said.
According to data from UNESCO, 28% of the world’s science researchers are women and only 7% of girls want to become scientists when they grow up.