A backstage entrance into the world of neuroscience and academia.

We chose to challenge!

For this past 8th of March, marked as International Women’s Day 2021, the SimpleNeuro team decided to commemorate this day by challenging many things. We uploaded pictures to our Instagram page in which we talked about topics we need to challenge. 

Here’s a recap:

Katrina decided to talk about the culture in which women, especially women of color, feel unsafe in outdoor spaces. From street harassment by unwanted comments to sexual assault, these things happen to women in the streets every day. Its prevalence is worrisome, going up to 44% of women in Germany and up to 60% in Mexico and other American countries. 

Marina chose to challenge gender injustice in the academic field, and even proposed a wonderful strategy to do so: empowering women. This issue comes from decades ago in which women were believed to be biologically inferior and therefore, not smart. At least not as smart as a man. We were thought to be a sweet creature whose main purpose in life was to create life and take care of it. Now, thanks to amazing women who fought for our rights and continue to do that, we are an important part of the scientific and academic fields, but still there is much work left to do. Education is how we got here, and more education is what´s going to take us further.

Francesca challenged us women to not give up our goals and dreams and to speak up when inequities rise. We have all been there, where we are witnessing an unfair and biased scenario against us or another woman. We all know the feeling of impotency, the fear and the dilemma of: Do I speak up for us (which we know will make us look -insert any adjective used against a strong women before: emotional, complaining, frivolous, sensitive, whiny, arrogant, hysterical, or worse)? Or, do I just let it go as I was taught to do since I was little? One is way easier than the other, and only one has the possibility to change the world for the better.

Agnese reminded us that we got here because of the ability of our sisters, mothers, grandmothers to overcome obstacles in the past. And she chose to challenge those obstacles, that in our current world situation we can name as the gender gap. These differences between women and men are reflected in many social, political, intellectual, cultural and economic environments. It’s about salaries, about opportunities, about participation of women and politics and so much more.

Petra decided to challenge gender stereotypes in STEM. It has been reported (and we all probably have some anecdotal evidence) that math and science are perceived as male career paths and this affects women since very early sometimes even closing the opportunities for us. Society makes us think we are not good enough or that we are just not capable based on assumptions and generalizations that other people have made about women for centuries. Globally, less than 29% of employees in scientific research are women. Even if you are not a feminist, the exclusion of women from these fields, only reduces the number of possible workforce therefore limiting the advances on every one of these areas.

Lastly, I decided to speak up about gender bias and misogyny at the workplace. It’s sometimes tricky to talk about this issue for me, since I work in a first world country, in a very international group led by a very successful women, but still, misogyny, gender bias and systemic sexism are everywhere, sometimes invisible to the majority of us because it’s incredibly well wired in our brains. We were all raised in a misogynistic world and the challenge is to change that little by little, where the first step is raising our concerns and giving voice and confidence to other women who might be feeling the same way.

From challenge comes change. From change comes equality.

Let’s choose to challenge.