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“My dream is to work as a researcher,” – microbiology student Amina Sultanova

11 February 2019
Amina is among less than 30% of girls in science

“I did quite well in both humanities and in sciences at school. However, in the end I chose biology and chemistry,” says Amina Sultanova, student of live sciences faculty of Aix-MARSEILLE, France.

Women account for less than 30% of researchers in technology and sciences, this the statistics provided by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Amina is one of these young women.

Why are there so few girls and women in science? Partly, the reasons for this are rooted in childhood. In many societies the expectation is that boys and girls should choose different behaviour patterns, including their choices in family life, career and social life. Boys tend to be prepared to become protectors and providers, while girls are prepared to be good wives and mothers. When we expect that men and women will act in a certain way simply because they are born men or women, it means that we follow so-called “gender stereotypes”. Research shows that gender stereotypes are the main obstacles for women and girls in science. By the time girls reach six years of age, they already consider that boys are more brilliant and more suited to “really, really smart” activities than girls.

“It happened so that sometimes at mathematics or biology classes we, girls, were told: “You won’t need it so much anyway”, implying that girls are destined to take care of their future family. In fact, it turned out partly true – most of my girl-friends majored in humanities at university,” says Amina.

“I’ve always had my heart and mind set on scientific work, for example, in pharmacology. I won’t make a secret out of the fact that I was attracted by the high income that it offers and an opportunity to work as a researcher at the university, as well as independence that goes with it,” says Amina

“The most important thing is science is to ask the right question. For example, today asking questions about Darwinism and evolution is fashionable. At the University we scan a certain gene, look at its composition and test it against the global genetic database. In future it might help predict the sequence of certain evolutionary events and changes, and, possibly, even influence them,” she says.

The same UNESCO report shows that for every 20 jobs lost, women gain only one new job in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), while men gain five. Young women more often become unemployed in most countries: among young men aged 15-24 12.1% are don’t have a job, while young women account for 13.4% of unemployed.

«I think that more girls should go into science. Now is the time of equal opportunities. And one has to cultivate an interest to science among girls, rather than reinforce stereotypes that supposedly girls and women can’t do science,” says Amina.