‘To the Mothers of Science’: BIST fosters the careers of 10 mother scientists with coaching and financial aid

By July 23, 2020January 4th, 2021BIST, Media

• “This programme will give me the confidence to take a step forward in my career” (Irene Marco, IBEC)

• The selected recipients will receive a monthly salary top-up of €400 over the course of one year, as well as training to reinforce leadership skills

The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) has announced the winners of the second edition of the To the Mothers of Science programme, which offers supporting grants and coaching sessions to talented BIST female researchers to recognise their roles as scientists and mothers, and support them along their way to attaining positions of greater responsibility.

The 10 winners of this edition come from all seven BIST centres: Claire Morgan and Sarah Offenburger from CRG, Irene Marco Rius and Núria Torras Andrés from IBEC, Ewelina Wajs from ICFO, Gemma Aragay from ICIQ, Mary Cano Sarabia and Belén Ballesteros Pérez from ICN2, Malgorzata Siudek from IFAE, and Iliana López Soldado from IRB Barcelona.

The winners will participate in four guided coaching sessions aimed at increasing leadership skills, and will receive a monthly salary top-up of €400 over the course of a full year. In this year’s edition, five finalists will also get to participate in the coaching programme, which aims to create a peer support group and address the specific needs of researchers who are also mothers.

There comes a time in a researcher’s career when one has to leap forward to grow professionally, and that’s when difficulties often come up. This programme aims to equip participants with the tools to boldly face those challenges, feel empowered, and recognise their own strengths and values,” explains Victòria Conesa, psychologist and the programme’s coach.

The winners have shown they are convinced this training will have a positive impact on their careers. “I am now at a point where I could apply to principal investigator or group leader positions and I realise that sometimes I am the one who holds myself back. The coaching sessions will be ideal because they will help me become more sure of myself and gain the confidence to take a step forward.” says Irene Marco from IBEC.

COVID-19 increases the gender gap in science

The second edition of the To the Mothers of Science programme coincides with a delicate moment in time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All programme winners have expressed the difficulties associated with working from home with their children, some stressing that the burden of childcare has fallen on them.

This phenomenon has been described by various sources including Nature (Are women publishing less during the pandemic? Here’s what the data say) and the Agencia SiNC (Estoy fallando como investigadora y madre). Despite this, the winners of this year’s edition of the To the Mothers of Science programme agree that the pandemic has helped them to further hone their time management skills.

Most of the researchers selected this year say they will use their salary top-up towards saving time, both for research and to be with their families. “The scientific world is very demanding over time, and even more when you have children.” says Belén Ballesteros from ICN2.

Victòria Conesa’s coaching includes group sessions where participants can share concerns, experiences, and thoughts, creating a supportive environment. Núria Torras (IBEC), one of the programme winners says, “In this programme you feel that you are not alone, that there are other women like you who are in the same situation. What I can contribute to this programme is my personal experience for the benefit of those who will come after me. It is the most beautiful thing about participating in To the Mothers of Science.”

Download press release (Catalan)
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Mothers of Science webpage