New campaign celebrates Czech women in science

Illustrative photo: FotoshopTofs / Pixabay, CC0

A new campaign by the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences celebrates women in science, but it also points out to the fact that Czech female scientists are not equally represented. The official hashtag of the campaign, launched on social media on Wednesday, is #WomenInScience.

The campaign called Female Scientists’ Successes in 2020 is coordinated by the Sociological Institute’s National Centre for Gender &Science. It will run from Wednesday until February 11, which marks the International Day of Girls and Women in Science.

Under the hashtag ZenyVeVede or WomenInScience, the institute will share successful stories of dozens of Czech as well as foreign female researchers on Facebook and other social media.

The first female scientist presented in the campaign is Lucie Augustovičová, who developed a ground-breaking method of freezing molecules very close to absolute zero. According to the scientific community, her discovery could push the boundaries of physics.

Another Czech female researcher promoted on the occasion of the upcoming International Day of Girls and Women in Science is Hana Sedláčková, a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen.

Together with her colleagues she discovered how certain types of proteins ensure that DNA replication proceeds at the right pace, explains the campaign’s coordinator Kristýna Veitová:

“The results of her research were published in the prestigious magazine Nature. She helped to unveil the function of the so-called MCM proteins in protecting cells again DNA instability. The discovery could help unveil the biological causes of certain types of cancer.”

The main goal of the campaign is not only to highlight the excellent results of Czech female scientists over the past year and motivate women to take part in scientific research.

It also points out that participation of Czech women in science is not as high as it could be, says Kristýna Veitová:

Kristýna Veitová,  photo: archive of Czech Academy of Sciences

“While the proportion of women among assistant professors is almost 50 percent, there are only around 13 percent of female professors, so we definitely cannot speak about gender balance.

“When it comes to the overall representation of women in science, the Czech Republic is one of the worst countries in the European Union, with only around 27 percent representation.”

According to Mrs Veitová, women in science often find it hard to keep up with the requirements of their profession while raising children or caring for their elderly parents.

“Our data show that the majority of female students have trouble finishing their Post Doc programmes. They often get pregnant during their studies and find it difficult to meet the requirements to travel, or to spend time at a foreign university. These things are hard to combine with having a child to look after.”

The International Day of Girls and Women in Science, which aims to achieve full and equal access to science for women and girls, was declared on February 11, 2016 and was first celebrated in the following year.