Women In Science Day is a United Nations initiative to bridge the International Community and women in science by linking their knowledge and expertise to the 17 sustainable development global goals. Each year, an event is organised on or around February 11 in order to bring the global community together towards this goal. This year, on Women&Girls In Science Day, we want to recognise the important contributions of female imaging scientists to scientific discovery and highlight some important initiatives from around the globe that promote gender equality in the field of Imaging.

Latin America: “The importance of female role models and a change in culture with respect to the “glass ceilings”- by Mariana De Niz - @FocalPlane

The FocalPlane blog of interviews with Latin American scientists who specialise in microscopy was born with the aim of shedding light into the people behind the microscope –scientists from Latin America – their life and career paths, their contributions to science, and their expectations and hopes for the future of science and microscopy in the region. Mariana De Niz has so far conducted interviews with 58 scientists (25 of whom are women) from 6 countries in Latin America and aimed at equal representation considering various aspects, including gender. Many of the women participating in the interviews are leaders in various areas of science and beyond, as well as role models themselves. Below, we highlight some:

Moara Lemos (Brazilian - Head of electron microscopy at Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Portugal): On going to the microscope: “It’s like opening a curtain and finding a secret. It’s a ritual for me. I go to the microscope and I open a curtain to the unknown. About leeches, I found many in the Amazonia, even inside alligators’ mouths». https://focalplane.biologists.com/2022/05/03/an-interview-with-moara-lemos/

Veronica Eisner (Uruguayan - Professor and Academic Director of the Advanced Microscopy Unit at Pontificia Universidad de Chile). On the importance of infrastructure and capacity-building in Chile: “Doing science in the place where we were born and grew up, close to our families is a privilege. We shouldn’t have to go abroad to do high-quality science, and [my] vision is to be able to achieve this at home.”

Leslie Tejeda (Bolivian - Food Biochemistry Researcher and member of Swebol Biotech, Bolivia) On the importance of perseverance: I’m a mother of two girls, and although sometimes I felt like switching to a different job because of the difficulties of academic life, I realized it was important for me on one hand not to give up on my own dreams and on the other hand, to change the landscape for future generations of women (which includes my daughters).”

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Australia: Reimaging electron microscopy while building equality.

Prof. Joanne Etheridge, Director of our Monash University facility, has recently been awarded the 2022 Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship from the ARC to develop new forms of electron microscopy. A prestigious fellowship to 'reimagine electron microscopy', which will also be used to establish programs to support early and mid-career researchers within the electron microscopy and imaging physics communities. Working closely with entities such as the International Science Council’s Standing Committee for Gender Equality in Science, Prof. Etheridge can advocate for employment structures and funding mechanisms that facilitate diverse career pathways in scientific research.

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Africa: AMI- African Microscopy Initiative - Building African capacity for microscopy through training, infrastructure and open-access programs.

AMI training programmes provide opportunities for any life science researcher in Africa to gain, develop, and teach optical microscopy. Imaging Africa covers all expenses for all attendees, providing the opportunity to learn the skills and techniques necessary to fully harness the power of optical microscopy.

Listen HERE to Mai Rahmoon, Lecturer & Post-Doctoral Fellow

“I don’t have a lot of imaging background, so this is going to help me to learn new techniques that I can learn in my research and teach my students and my lab team. And I expect to grow my networking connections.”

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United States: The 3rd Annual Women In Microscopy Conference - 8th of March

Tirzah Abbott and Stephanie Ribetis are the founders of the Women in Microscopy conference hosted by the NUANCE Center and Microscopy Society of America Student Council. The Women in Microscopy Conference was started in 2021 to highlight trailblazing women and early career professionals in the field of microscopy. Going to its 3rd year, the conference creates space for important conversations on career challenges, diversity, and work-life balance alongside research presentations on materials science, biology, and environmental sciences.

REGISTER HERE: https://sites.northwestern.edu/wimconference/

Bioimaging opportunities in North America: BioImaging North America and Canada BioImaging

Singapore: Keshmarathy Sacadevan (Kesh) – “Imaging – through the lens, you see the beauty of the science.”

At the age of 3, her father rewarded her with $20 to buy a toy. She chose a toy microscope set, and by the age of 30, she was working with a $2-million-dollar microscope. Kesh is a microscopist based in Singapore, where she works with researchers on projects related to transmission electron microscopy, light super resolution microscopy, and correlative microscopy.

Her passion for science extends beyond the laboratory. Kesh actively volunteers to bring science to children in Singapore and is a circle lead in YWLC STEM. She advocates for young women in STEM, particularly minority women, and promotes outreach programs for STEM women around the world. Her goal is to inspire more girls and women to pursue careers in STEM fields.

About Kesh: https://www.linkedin.com/in/keshmarathy-sacadevan-91801287/

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Europe: RMS (Royal Microscopical Society) - Equity in Microscopy Resource

This resource was initially created in collaboration with Sian Culley at University College London, to highlight women in microscopy and cytometry around the world and demonstrate the specific areas they specialise in. It was designed to assist scientific and conference organisers in selecting excellent speakers for microscopy and cytometry events and maintaining a positive gender balance. It now also includes underrepresented people in microscopy and cytometry.

Anyone can add a contact to the database. Check out this fantastic resource and hat’s off to the Women In Science, Siân Culley, who initiated it:

https://www.rms.org.uk/community/equity-microscopy-resource.html ​​

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