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Wednesday, 13 October 2021

“A home for women’s voice”: a viewpoint by Dr Zakya Kafafi and Dr Mónica Lira-Cantú

The founders of Women in Renewable Energy discuss about the importance of creating a gender-inclusive environment in scientific research on the pages of “Nature Energy”.

In a “Viewpoint” article published yesterday in Nature Energy, Dr Zakya Kafafi, Distinguished Research Fellow at Lehigh University (Pennsylvania, US), and Dr Mónica Lira-Cantú, CSIC Research Scientist and leader of the ICN2 Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy Group, talk about the Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) conference and network, an initiative they launched two years ago to promote a stronger presence of female scientists at conferences and in the workplace.

This idea originated from the personal experience of the two researchers, who observed how research in natural sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM disciplines) still lacks gender balance and –even more— women are generally under-represented in relevant conferences and meetings, as well as in scientific and strategic committees. In order to change this pattern and create a gender-inclusive environment, it is important to both empower women and provide them occasions for international visibility. Therefore, Dr Kafafi and Dr Lira-Cantú decided to offer a special stage to female scientists working in renewable energy, where they could showcase their research and scientific results.

Participation to WiRE, a yearly conference aiming at discussing the latest findings and trends in renewable energy research, is open to everybody, but speakers are all women. And while science keeps being the focus of the gathering, gender issues and inequalities in academy and the research world in general are also addressed. During a roundtable session, participants can share their experience, provide advice and promote practices leading towards gender balance.

Read the full article in Nature Energy.