The Gender Balance Committee at CRG decided this year to use the 8th of March, International Women's Day, to profile women scientists, and at the same time to promote CRG alumna who are now in independent research positions. To increase the impact of the flyers, they were not spread at the commonly used dissemination desks of the building, but personnaly handed over during the morning to all people entering the campus building. 500 flyers were given away in 1h and the recepients had time to have a glimps on them while taking the elevator to their labs.Roderic Guigo, CRG Bioinformatics department head, distributed flyers profiling CRG post-doc alumna, who are now independent researchers.
Do you know this kind of events where you have to beg people to participate? You as an organiser being afraid of facing an empty room when introducing the speaker, feeling sorry for the speaker and the whole society that nobody is interested in the topic. And when we talk about Gender Equality you hope additionally that at least one or the other men will be in the room. This is why it took me by surprise that for this year’s event to celebrate the International Women´s Day we had to close the registration only a couple of days after advertisement due to the size restriction of the venue room. 101 people signed in, a mixed crowd of scientists from student to director, technicians, administration and research support staff. 16 men and 85 women.
Maybe it has been the promise of free sandwiches, or the choice to hold the event over the lunch break, or the slightly provocative title “Women in power – How real is that?”. In any case, I was pleased that the room was packed and excited to welcome everybody in the name of the CRG gender balance committee and the PRBB. As part of an ice-breaker action I asked everybody to stand up. And the effect of this action was the next surprise to me. Me being rather short, the first lane of chairs just half a meter in front of me, the lanes very close to each other (remember it was packed), and the very prompt reaction of the audience doing what I told them to do, made me feel a big wave rolling through the room. And I thought, wow, I would love to see people standing up like this more often, especially for the same rights for all genders.
We streamed the film “50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present, and Future of Women + Power” from Tiffany Shlain. It is a great film! Firstly, it manages to tell a 10.000-year history of women and power — from setbacks and uprisings, to the bigger context of where we are today – in only 20 min; secondly, it is very entertaining; and thirdly, it is very convincing. At least I (as women) thought after watching it: Yes, power is for us! But not only me, also the rest of the audience was inspired by the film and we discussed about our responsibilities in changing a biased society and the benefits for everybody once gender equality is achieved. Here I want to share with you the six main conclusions of the discussion:
- Role models are important. Therefore, we have to talk about and give visibility to successful women.
- It is important that women and men do AND write the history.
- All gender benefit from gender equality, both can have a more diverse and thus fulfilling live. Parents can not only share responsibilities but enjoy taking care of their family and pursue a career at the same time.
- The movie showed that countries with higher level of gender equality have a higher happiness index. So gender equality makes everybody happier, best argument ever!
- Our responsibility is to teach our kids how to see and understand the diverse genders and to reflect together with the kids how media do it (e.g. sexualizing women in advertisements)
- The responsibility starts with changing us, being aware of our biases and adapting habits and concepts.
By Sonja Reiland, International and Scientific Affairs, CRG