On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Universitat Politècnica de València, the STEAM Chair of the Social Council of the UPV and Power Electronics held the lecture "SHE Inspires: Discover the power of STEAM and meet its leading women" on Tuesday 6th February.
This initiative has given a voice to four leading figures in science, engineering and technology to listen to their stories: Sara García Alonso, biotechnologist, Researcher at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) and first Spanish astronaut in the European Space Agency (ESA); Mónica Bragado, Director of Business Development at Celestica and President of the Social Council of the UPV; Pilar Navarro, Head of R&D Projects at Power Electronics; and Ángela Pérez, President of Bioval and winner of the Jaume I Entrepreneurship Award.
The event, hosted by journalist Maribel Vilaplana, was attended by these four panellists, who did not hesitate to share their most personal experiences with the more than 500 participants. Follow this link to watch the whole event.
The first speaker was Sara García Alonso, who gave a motivational talk full of passion for science, in which she invited the whole audience, especially the younger ones, "to be brave to achieve what makes them happy, to pursue what motivates them, accompanied, of course, by a lot of effort and also a lot of passion," said the CNIO Researcher.
In statements to the media before her speech, García Alonso also stressed the importance of girls, boys and young people having more and more references to women who, like her, are dedicated to science: "If they see that challenges can be met, that they are overcome by someone close to them, and that what they do is applicable, interesting and stimulating, we will be bringing them closer to science, so I think it is very important that they know and have these types of references".
The Researcher pointed out that there has always been female talent, but now a lot of work is being done to make it visible, "for example, the Dones de Ciència project of the UPV and Las Naves, of which I am immensely proud to be one of the honoured. I think we have come a long way, although there are still some steps to be taken, I hope that in two or three generations, we will no longer have to point out that this or any other milestone was achieved as a woman and that there will therefore be true equality".
For her part, Pilar Navarro encouraged the younger audience "not to put up barriers and not to let anyone put them up" while also stressing the importance of having close role models like the protagonists of SHE Inspires: "I think it is essential for children to see it as close and achievable and believe that they can achieve the goals they set for themselves and get to where we have reached and even further if they set their minds to it".
In the same vein, Mónica Bragado pointed out the importance of having role models, "such as Sara García Alonso, who has shown that she is a great reference for many young people". She also encouraged all students who want to focus on STEAM disciplines "never to throw in the towel and to strive to achieve their goals, even if the road is sometimes hard". Bragado also highlighted the work of the UPV's Social Council, with initiatives such as the Up STEAM competition and the creation of the STEAM Chair to promote female technological talent.
Finally, Ángela Pérez encouraged the young audience to "never stop dreaming, because that is what science and research are all about. Normally, in the laboratory, things don't come out the first time, but we can't give up". The Valencian entrepreneur also pointed out that neither science nor any other discipline understands gender: "I believe that girls and women have a very important challenge ahead of us, and it is none other than to gain access not only to positions of responsibility, but to positions of super-responsibility; we must want to be not bosses, but super-bosses. We must know that we can and want to be," concluded Ángela Pérez.
The meeting allowed everyone present to learn first-hand about the challenges these four women have faced throughout their careers. Their personal experiences were also enriching and an inspiration for future generations.
If you want to know more about Sara García Alonso's Research career, her references, challenges and most recent projects, don't miss this interview conducted by the UPV Communication Area team.