LWiN: a lemanic arc network to promote women in science

Two female neuroscientists are tackling the problem of under-representation of women in academia. Their solution: To establish a Lemanic region network of scientists that will provide mutual support, facilitate exchanges and promote learning from and about each others careers.

The two scientists are at different stages in their private lives and careers. Camilla Bellone is a mother and assistant professor while Meaghan Creed is striving to pursue her career after a post-doc. The first is trying to find the best way to balance family life with running a lab while the second is figuring out how to make a move that will work for both her professional and personal life. Despite these timing differences, both absolutely agree that overall women lack a supportive network, self-assurance and above all mentorship.

In the world of research, most women stop after their Ph.D. According to Camilla Bellone this happens because women lack self-confidence, “Women tend to believe less in their abilities than men. We need to change this attitude, follow men’s example and assert ourselves to challenge them”. For Meaghan Creed the main problem is the lack of female role models. “I was lucky that I had Camilla as a personal coach, but the scarcity of women in senior positions means that most female students have no one to mentor them in these matters. This ‘isolation’ makes successful scientific career development all the more difficult”.

To attempt to redress the gender balance in academia, the two scientists created the “Lemanic Women in Neuroscience (LWiN)”, a network of professional women whose purpose is to connect and share work experiences and ideas to benefit the entire community and help retain women in science. LWiN is set on a single intention to tackle this pressing and contemporary issue.

The two female activists sent out a poll to discover the main obstacles encountered by women in this academic environment. At the top of the poll came: Family responsibilities, lack of opportunities and gender stereotypes. “We are not out to change men but rather to unlock female potential and make women more visible in research”, states Meaghan Creed. LWiN’s strategy is to hold a first meeting in the form of a conference where both male and female speakers will talk neuroscience, gender equality and career structure outside of an academic context. Specifically there will be a round-table discussion between the speakers and researchers at all levels.

Informations can be found at: http://www.nccr-synapsy.ch/fr/lwin.

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