AseBio, SEBBM, Aseica and CSIC bring together women scientists and entrepreneurs for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

  • Her Majesty the Queen, Doña Letizia and the Minister of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, attended the conference promoted by the SEBBM Women and Science Group
  • The meeting took place at the National Museum of Natural Sciences of the CSIC (MNCN-CSIC) to promote the role of women in science and entrepreneurship
  • Education and communication are some of the priorities highlighted by the speakers in order to achieve equality objectives
  • Only 20% of Spanish technology start-ups are led by women
foto familia
Madrid, España

The Spanish Bioindustry Association (AseBio) helped organise a gathering of female scientists and entrepreneurs called “Breaking glass ceilings: scientific women, from the laboratory to entrepreneurship” hosted by SEBBM (Spanish Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) in collaboration with ASEICA and the CSIC National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC), where the event took place. Spanish Minister of Science and Innovation Diana Morant, accompanied by Secretary General for Research Raquel Yotti, highlighted that “there won’t be a better future if we don’t take advantage of women’s talent” and noted that only 4% of Nobel laureates have been women. For her part, CSIC President Rosa Menéndez wanted to focus on the fact that Spain has enthusiastically embraced this 11 February initiative: “The UN congratulated us in 2019 for hosting over 3,000 events related to women and science.”

Her Majesty Queen Letizia joined in this event, held to commemorate International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February, to raise awareness of the contribution and work of women in the STEAM fields, encourage girls to go into science and call attention to how far we still have to go to reach equal opportunities in science, business and technology. 

To do so, five of the most important female scientists, entrepreneurs and journalists debated the barriers that many women come up against in taking their ideas beyond the lab and the steps to follow to achieve gender equality and better integrate women in all positions in the field of science in a more reasonable proportion. The women also wanted to highlight their most noteworthy contributions and share success stories. 

The women scientists and entrepreneurs of tomorrow

One of the priorities they highlighted for achieving this change and recognition is the impact on the coming generation that will develop future science and set up the businesses of tomorrow: “I ask girls to study and follow their professional dreams. We need them to build a better society that is more democratic, more cultured and more balanced,” declared SEBBM President Isabel Valera-Nieto, in addition to mentioning a recent CSIC study that indicates only 39% of the 5,000 most cited Spanish scientists are women.

Amadix CEO Rocío Arroyo, representing AseBio, expressed similar views to Valera-Nieto: “It is important to motivate school-age girls to study science, piquing their curiosity, boosting their self-confidence and showing them that it is possible to set up a company based on an idea that allows you to reach society and improve the lives of millions of people.” 

In order to reach girls and promote these changes that science needs, according to ASEICA Vice-president Marisol Soengas, one of the best ways to break down gender stereotypes and encourage girls to go into science is to speak with them on their own level and let them get to know the women beyond the lab coat.

For more diverse, inclusive science

Another key path for changing mentalities and promoting the work of women scientists and entrepreneurs is communication: “The media has a huge responsibility to show society the reality of a diverse, inclusive science, and we have to work harder to improve the image and representation of all scientists,” said Patricia Fernández de Lis, editor-in-chief of the Science and Technology section of El País.

In short, they all agree with MNCN-CSIC Ramón y Cajal researcher Ana Riesgo Gil: “The time for pretty words has passed, now we need action, and women have to be in the trenches to change the Spanish science system.”

In the same line, Rocío Arroyo, of AseBio, highlighted that “in those trenches” it is important for women to mentor each other, connect with each other and give each other a hand in resolving the difficulties they come up against, together. “And especially supporting women whose origin or disability further limits their professional growth, and who are even further than the rest of us from positions of power in our sector,” she added during the event in line with the words of journalist Fernández de Lis. 

Why did we want to organise this event?

AseBio believes it is important to highlight that the biotechnology industry is knowledge-intensive, which means it has a higher percentage of researchers to total employees than any other sector. Plus, at biotech firms nearly 60% of R&D workers are women, which is much higher than the average for other sectors, according to the latest AseBio Report. 

Nevertheless, only 20% of Spanish technology start-ups are led by women, reminded AseBio speaker Rocío Arroyo, based on the South Summit 2021 entrepreneurship map. The AseBio figure is similar, although slightly lower than for biotech firms where only 24% have a woman in the executive team.

As event organiser and SEBBM Women and Science group coordinator María Mayán noted, “We prepared this event to put the figures on the table and try to find ways to ensure we all have the same opportunities in the field of science and innovation. We are thankful for the support of the institutions and the administration.”

CNIC researcher Guadalupe Sabio, who moderated the panel and co-organised the event, believes “we can’t minimise the problem and contribute to unequal opportunities in science. We have to listen and be aware of all the scientific studies that show the gender gap at all stages of a career in research. Plus, we need to raise awareness of the legacy of female scientists and entrepreneurs to have role models that girls and boys can identify with.”

More talks related to this initiative

During the event, a series of dialogue sessions were announced, to be held in February and March at the MNCN-CSIC, for secondary students featuring noteworthy women researchers and entrepreneurs from SEBBM, AseBio and ASEICA. 

Contact information

Head de Communication and Content

Agathe Cortes

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Who we are 

AseBio brings together more than 290 entities and represents the Spanish biotechnology sector as a whole. Its mission is to lead the transformation of the country, positioning science, innovation and especially biotechnology as an engine of economic growth and social welfare. Its members include companies, associations, foundations, universities, technology and research centres that carry out their activities directly or indirectly related to biotechnology in Spain.