The Spanish science leads the conference “Women and Science, in memory of Margarita Salas” in Amsterdam

On March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Instituto Cervantes Utrecht organized a debate program on the challenges of women in science and Spanish as a scientific language together with the Public Library of Amsterdam (OBA), EUNIC Netherlands and the Institut Français des Pays-Bas.

This program, prepared with the collaboration of the Association of Spanish Scientists in the Netherlands (CENL-SWNL), FECYT, the Iberia Club of the European Patent Office, the Czech Center and the Austrian Embassy in The Hague, was inaugurated by the Ambassador of Spain in the Netherlands, Mrs. María Jesús Alonso, and by Roel van den Sigtenhorst, head of the OBA House of all Languages ​​department.

The debate was moderated by Pilar Tena, director of the Instituto Cervantes de Utrecht, and three Spanish researchers participated as speakers: Noelia Lozano Vidal, biomedical researcher and president of CENL; Mara Dierssen, neurobiologist and director of the Center for Genomic Regulation of Barcelona; and Francisco Colomer, astrophysicist and director of the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIVE), in addition to the Austrian and Czech artists Sonja Baümel and Markéta Baňková. Two videos about Margarita Salas were projected, in which she explains her discovery of the phage DNA polymerase Phi29 and a conversation with María Blasco about the importance of supporting and improving the scientific culture in citizens’ education.

Noelia Lozano and Mara Dierssen opened the debate by showing data on how female scientists still find a glass ceiling in their professional development and exposed the possible causes that lead to this situation. Then, Francisco Colomer focused his talk on how the use of Spanish in science, in addition to English as lingua franca, is necessary to support the development of scientific projects and consortia in Latin America. Sonja Baümel showed some of her works, in which she explores the human microbiota as part of our human identity, and Markéta Baňková read an excerpt from her latest book, in which she approaches natural sciences to children from fiction.

In the second part of the program, the Dutch writer Margot Dijkgraaf presented her new book “Zij namen het woord. Rebelse schrijfsters in de Franse letteren” (They took the floor. Rebel writers of French literature, Atlas Contact 2020). This work makes a portrait of the French writers who have changed the history of literature.

Photography: Margret Wibmer

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