The Barcelona City Council supports BIST to strengthen the scientific community

By October 24, 2023BIST

This is the second year the Barcelona City Council contributes to BIST, reinforcing projects to promote cooperation in multidisciplinary research, to support reducing the gender gap in science, and to foster science education with a gender perspective.

BIST and the Barcelona City Council have for a second consecutive year signed an agreement to support some of BIST’s iconic programmes, such as the BIST Ignite Programme, to develop actions to close the gender gap in science and technology and to promote science education. The Barcelona City Council will contribute with 200,000 euros to BIST activities.

With the signing of this agreement, the Deputy Mayor for Economy, Finance, Economic Promotion, and Tourism, Hon. Jordi Valls, said “we continue to work so that women’s participation in science and research leadership becomes more of a reality and attains the normality it should have. We do this with key actors in the city such as BIST, which, from Barcelona, brings together seven multidisciplinary research centres of excellence at the European and global level”. Barcelona City Council’s participation in the BIST “Women Leaders in Science and Technology” project—which will provide funding and support to programmes such as To the Mothers of Science—is “an example of how we want the city’s scientific community to grow”. According to data from the European Commission’s study She Figures 2021, nearly half of all PhD graduates are women, but they represent only 24% of the heads of academic institutions. In science and technology-related disciplines, the percentage is even lower.

Referring to this agreement with the Barcelona City Council, BIST Director of Programmes Núria Bayó Puxan, stated: “This partnership reflects our collective commitment to fostering a more inclusive and diverse research community. By providing funding and support for post-doctoral researchers, junior group leaders, and science education initiatives, we are taking important steps toward ensuring that women play a central role in the scientific and technological landscape”.

Igniting multidisciplinary research

The new agreement will also support the BIST Ignite Programme, an initiative that fosters multidisciplinary research collaborations within the BIST Community. In particular, it will cofund two collaborative projects: TeraFox and Explode-TNBC. Explode-TNBC —led by Dr. Sara Sdelci and Dr. Antoni Riera, at CRG and IRB Barcelona, respectively— seeks to develop a targeted therapy against triple negative breast cancers, for which there are still no specific and effective treatments. Terafox meanwhile —led by Dr. Ekaterina Khestanova and Dr. David Pesquera at ICFO and ICN2, respectively— seeks to develop a novel and more efficient method to modulate matter with light. This has applications in energy saving and storage, the development of much more precise sensors, and the manufacturing of more efficient medical devices and computers.

Efforts to close the gender gap

BIST community actions to reduce the gender gap in science and technology will be supported by the agreement with the Barcelona City Council. In particular, the agreement will support actions addressed to junior group leaders and postdoctoral researchers who are mothers, providing them with resources and coaching to keep advancing on their scientific careers. Likewise, the agreement will also support new science education activities designed by the BIST Outreach Committee to improve the teaching and the learning of sciences among school students, with a gender perspective. The latest include bringing women researchers into secondary schools, involving secondary school students in research projects, and also reinforcing well-established programmes such as the #10tífiques.