Our group leader’s reflections to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

From left to right, top: Lara San Martin, Marta Florido, Alba Gordó. From left to right, bottom: Ruth Mora Soto and Mervi Mantsinen

Our Fusion group is hosted by Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), which is one of the many research centers in Spain and worldwide that still have steps to take to reach gender equality.

Despite the recent progress there is still a great deal to do in this area given the fact that only about 25% of the BSC workforce is female and among the research groups only about 20% are led by female scientist. Moreover, none of the nine directors of the center is a woman, while the situation with the Governance Boards has improved slightly over the past years, with 18% and 27% of women currently in the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee and the Scientific Advisor Board, respectively. Our gender and diversity plan to improve this situation is available here.

Our Fusion group is one of the few groups at BSC led by a woman researcher, i.e. myself ICREA Research Prof. Dr Mervi Mantsinen.

I chose to study technical physics in late 1980’s to challenge myself and to follow my passion to contribute to nuclear fusion research. My journey has not been in any means easy given the highly competitive and male-dominated field, and there is still a long way to go, to grow both professionally and personally.

Some days ago, I agreed to give an interview on the role of female role models in my career choice in science. I found it was quite an eye-opening experience. At first, I had great difficulties to identify any woman that could have affected me in my choice. However, when consciously trying to dig deeper into my past, I realized the influence that my only female mathematics and chemistry teacher at high school had on me. At that time, I was already very motivated by mathematics and science and, by just being there, she made me understand that a woman could actually make a career based on science.

As a female group leader at a world-leading supercomputing center, I realize that I have an important role to play as a role model, too. While there would be so much to do in this respect that I have not yet figured out how to manage (both time-wise and regarding the approach), I cherish all the small things that we have succeeded so far in the group. In particular, I am particularly proud of us having hosted four very talented young women at different stages in their studies: Ruth Mora Soto, Lara San Martin, Marta Florido and Alba Gordó. I hope they all enjoyed their stay with us and at the same time broadened their horizons in a positive way. For more information on their experiences in our group, please have a look at these earlier posts about Ruth, Lara, Marta and Alba.

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