Polish science needs women

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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Even though the number of women in science is increasing gradually, their representation is still lower than that of men.

To recognize and highlight the role of women in scientific and technological communities, 11 February was declared International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The holiday established by the United Nations General Assembly has already been celebrated for eight years.

Many outstanding women-researchers are associated with the Polish Academy of Sciences. Celebrating International Women and Girls in Science Day, we present several profiles.

Dr. Habil. Katharina Boguslawski

Professor Bogusławski is a quantum chemist working at the intersection of quantum chemistry, physics and applied computer science. She was awarded an ERC Starting Grant to implement the project entitled Devising Reliable Electronic Structure Schemes through Eclectic Design. In the project, she intends to explore the methods used to create new materials with improved properties without increasing the computational cost of simulations.

K. Boguslawdki has been a member of the Polish Young Academy (AMU) of the PAS since 2019. She is a professor at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Informatics, Chair of Quantum Mechanics. Currently, at the Department of Chemistry she has been implementing her prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Individual Fellowship European Fellowship (MSCA IF-EF). Earlier, prof. Bogusławski became a laureate of START 2016 at the Foundation for Polish Science (NFP). Was also awarded a Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW) scholarship for outstanding young scientists and the National Science Centre (NCN) grant SONATA BIS to start her own research group.

Msc Dagmara Bożek

D. Bożek is a Polar researcher from the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IGF PAS).

She participated in the 35th IGF PAS Polar Expedition to the Hornsund, Polish Polar Station on Spitsbergen (2012-2013), and in the 40th Antarctic Expedition to the Henryk Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station on King George Island (2015-2016).

D. Bożek is engaged in the promotion of Polish research in Polar regions (projects: Eduscience, EDU-ARCTIC, EDU-ARCTIC PL, EDU-ARCTIC 2, Polar Star). For her activities aimed at popularizing knowledge about Polar regions, Bożek was awarded first prize in the competition “Popularyzator Nauki 2022” in the category “Animator”.

The researcher is the author of the project “Polarniczki” dedicated to women working at Polish Polar stations. Within the project there was a portal launched where the information about women exploring Polar regions has been gathered.

Dr. Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska

Dr. Ćwiek-Rogalska from the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences deals with ethnology, cultural studies, Bohemian studies. She investigates the peculiarities of post-World War II resettlements in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and analyzes the new settlers’ experience with regard to things left by previous residents. The researcher assumes that old objects act as ghosts of the previous culture and keep new residents interacting with the “ghostly” presence of the displaced.

Dr. Ćwiek-Rogalska had been a Fulbright Fellow and a laureate of two National Science Centre (NCN) grants. In 2022, she won a Scientific Award of “Polityka” weekly. Currently, she has been implementing her groundbreaking project “Recycling the German Ghosts. Resettlement Cultures in Poland, Czechia and Slovakia after 1945” financed within the prestigious ERC Starting Grant scheme.

Professor Bożena Kamińska-Kaczmarek

Prof. Kamińska-Kaczmarek is a specialist in molecular biology and neuroscience. Her research deals with the effects of brain tumors on the local immune system. She has discovered the mechanisms by which immune cells, both those residing in the brain (microglia) and those migrating from the blood, cause glioma (brain tumor) growth instead of destroying it. This finding pushed the development of advanced therapies of treating glioma.

Currently, prof. Kamińska-Kaczmarek is a head of the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a correspondent member of the PAS and a member of the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). From 2018 to 2022, she was a deputy chair of the Curators Board Department II of Biological and Agricultural Sciences of the PAS.

MSc Marta Kędziora

M. Kędziora is a PhD student at Maj Institute of Pharmacology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Being a master student, in 2017 she joined prof. Starowicz-Bubak’s team to carry out the research on pharmacotherapy of osteoarthritis (osteoarthrosis) and to investigate new compounds which would potentially relieve pain in patients suffering from this disease.

The researcher has been a laureate of the PAS President scholarship for outstanding achievements. M. Kędziora he has been implementing her project under the National Science Centre (NCN) funding scheme PRELUDIUM. To increase the mobility, she was awarded a two-month research stay at the University of Bordeaux in France, and a Kosciuszko Foundation fellowship for a five-month research stay at Virginia Commonwealth University in the USA.

Women researchers at the Polish Academy of Sciences: statistics

Share of women national members of the Academy is increasing. There are currently 43 of them. Although the number of women among Academy members is not high enough, recently (2016-2021) there has been a marked increase from 4.90 to 13.10 percent.

Among vice presidents of the PAS there had been four women so far. Prof. Miroslawa Marody was a vice president of the PAS from 2011 to 2014, and prof. Elżbieta Frąckowiak – from 2015 to 2018. Currently, the PAS has two vice presidents, prof. Natalia Sobczak and dr. Miroslava Ostrowska whose bios were presented in the article “Elected vice presidents of the PAS”.

The Polish Young Academy is highly concerned about women representatives in the team where out of 35 members 14 are women. It is worth mentioning that from 2017 to 2019 the authorities of the Polish Young Academy were represented exclusively by women. You can read the interview with the AMU president and her deputies in the PAS magazine “Academia”.

Many women researchers work at the Academy entities. There are 14 women directors of the PAS institutes at present.

Conference “Scientific Excellence has no Gender”

The conference “Scientific Excellence has no Gender” was organized by the Polish Young Academy in partner with L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women and Science. It took place on Friday, 10 February 2023. It was aimed at countering gender inequality in Polish science.

At the meeting the report on gender disparities in Polish science was presented. The data was collected by the National Science Center, the PAS Office PolSCA in Brussels, the Belgian  Young Academy and experts of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women and Science Programme.

Conference program with links to online coverage is here Programme – Scientific Excellence has no Gender.

Source of information: Polish Academy of Sciences

Photo by Andrzej Romański/ Nicolaus Copernicus University; Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Bartosz Ormanty; Leszek Zych/Polityka; Foundation for Polish Science; materials of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Program For Women and Science