Zabala’s team includes 130 women specialised in chemistry, biology, biotechnology, environmental sciences, pharmacy, and physics. Thirty of them have PhDs.
In 2015 the United Nations General Assembly declared February 11 International Day of Women and Girls in Science in order to achieve full and equal access and participation in science for women and girls, furthermore to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
This day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation must be strengthened. The celebration of this day is led by UNESCO and the UN, in collaboration with institutions that promote access and participation of women and girls in science.
From ZABALA we wanted to pay a special tribute to the 130 women scientists who are part of our professional team, 30 of them PhDs. We have asked them to share their reflections because we want to be their loudspeaker. Visit ZABALA’s social media profiles (Twitter, LinkedIN and Instagram) to discover who they are and what they want to express on such a significant day.
In addition, we ask you to read very special interview to Paula Hafner, EU Regions Knowledge Area Manager at Zabala. Paula has a degree in Molecular Biology (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid 2005) and an MBA (2007). Since 2008 she is a consultant for R&I projects in the biosciences sector and currently the EU Regions Knowledge Area leader.
Question (Q) : When did you become aware of your interest in science?
Answer (A). Clearly my interest in science comes from my father, he is an engineer and has always worked as a technician. When it was time for me to choose between science or literature in BUP, my father told me, daughter, literature will always be present in your life, since it is something that you can cultivate from a personal point of view, but science will “furnish” your head.
The truth is that I had no doubts about choosing science, but my father’s advice stayed with me. Science gives another perspective and enriches critical thinking.
I suppose that watching National Geographic reports on volcanoes and earthquakes since childhood awakened in me the curiosity of the “field” sciences from a very young age. There was a time when I even thought about the possibility of studying Geology, although I finally fell in love with genetics and decided to study Biology.
(Q) What difficulties and what support did you find when you made the decision to become a professional in the scientific field?
(A). The access to the university was the easy part, since the biology career at that time was mainly covered by women. The problems came when I finished my studies and tried to access an interesting doctorate, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do.
I was not able to find a thesis supervisor willing to listen to my ideas, which made me give up on my PhD and orient my career to a less technical field by doing an MBA. Fortunately, after my master’s degree and some previous professional experience, I arrived at Zabala where I am in touch with my “scientific profile” and learn every day about innovative and disruptive ideas, which remind me that science moves and will move the world.
(Q) How do you see, from your work at ZABALA, the change in the valuation of STEM women?
(A): I think that in recent years incredible achievements have been made by society as a whole regarding the inclusion of women in all fields. In Europe we are fortunate and equally well regarded as men in almost all STEM fields, although there is always work to be done.
There is still a lot of work to be done in other less developed regions, where women do not have access to studies and even less related to science. But I am an optimist and I believe that the resilience, empathy and innate strength that we women have will take us far and the equal valuation of our profiles in the professional field will be a reality sooner rather than later.