Yesterday, at INESDYC, I saw a dream come true, to which I indirectly contributed. I would interpret it as a good care for the realization of other dreams, such as greater regional integration in the sciences, from doctoral training to the creation of more ambitious regional centers and scientific infrastructure, but the future will tell.
I am referring to the announcement of the Constitution of the Dominican chapter of OWSD, Women in Science for the Developing World.
OWSD is one of the stars of the Trieste System Galaxy, a group of science-advancing institutions, with special interest and focus toward developing countries. The initial big bang was the founding of the International Center for Theoretical Physics, in 1964, which today bears the name of its founder, Abdeslam, a gift from Italy to developing countries, to use the words which, on June 2, marking the seventy-sixth anniversary of the Italian institutional referendum, used by Minister Antonio Almonte, noting that he was one of the first Dominican scholars to take part in its programmes.
At the ceremony, Ambassador Tony Raffoul recalled the long list of institutions in that galaxy. Among them is OWSD. Sometimes its abbreviation is translated into Spanish by changing for for From. However, despite the slogan “Uniting the Scholars of the Developing World”, its six goals are teleological.
Increased participation of women from developing countries in scientific and technological research, teaching and leadership;
promoting recognition of the scientific and technological achievements of women scientists and technologists from developing countries;
Promote cooperation and communication between women scientists and technologies from developing countries and with the international scientific community as a whole;
increasing access by women in developing countries to the social and economic benefits of science and technology;
Promote the participation of women scientists and technologies in the sustainable and economic development of their country; s
Increased understanding of the role of science and technology in supporting women’s development activities.
OWSD is an international organization founded in 1989, but its idea was launched at the historic conference on the role of women in science, which was held in Beijing two years ago. Its initial members were 218 and today there are 8,519, which is forty times the same, the same relationship that exists between the forty scientific members of the Dominican chapter today, and the person who opened this path, Idelissa Bonelli. Unfortunately, she passed away a few days ago and was unable to see the culmination of the operation to which she contributed so much, as Dr. Gladys Rosado, director of the Marine Biology Center she founded, recalled fondly.
The chapter constitution is the result of a major team effort, coordinated by Denia Cid, researcher at PUCMM and CNCCMDL, and first chair of the chapter. Among the other members of the NEC, I have years of friendship as well as Denia, who received her PhD from my university in Italy, with Nelvi de la Cruz, a physicist at UASD and advisor to the Ministry of Youth, and Mariella Matteo, a PUCMM physicist.
This leads me to explain what I left hanging at the beginning, about my indirect contribution to the composition of the class.
Five years ago, at the International Science Congress usually organized by MESCyT, a contribution from an Ecuadorean colleague, Maria Fernanda Rivera-Velázquez, who had just received the OWSD Latin American Prize, the Elsevier-TWAS Prize, was planned for early-career researchers.
Maria Fernanda has promoted and will speak on the constitution of the Ecuadorean branch of the OWSD. A last minute problem prevented him from attending, and we agreed that I would present his paper. I remember that Nelvi was at that meeting, I’m not sure if Denia was too, the presentation seemed to piqued interest and my kind went unnoticed. But the results were not immediate. And it was a pleasant surprise to me, on the eve of leaving the Dominican Republic, though I categorically do not hope, to see that the idea took time, but it came true.
Since the Ecuadorean model introduced in the Dominican Republic, the Dominican model is likely to generate a clone in Central America, where there are no other national chapters, but favorable conditions exist thanks to the Mesoamerican Network of Researchers in the Natural Sciences, to which many scholars from the chapter also belong .
Yesterday, Denia Cid presented a fact that gives way to different readings. He stated that 33% of researchers involved in projects funded by MESCyT through Fondocyt are women. She suggested as a goal to increase this percentage, which, however, is not very different from the world average, although it is of a statistically different weight in a country where 63% of female university students are.
This number needs improvement, you can’t disagree, but there are many other problems that can’t be ignored. The gender imbalance, not only in the Dominican Republic, is not only a quantitative problem. There is a role problem in research groups and it manifests itself above all in the development of academic life. This is without mentioning other problems not only related to the researchers, but also who they could have been, and they have economic reasons that prevented this in a selective and preferential manner for the brothers who can continue their studies.
It is true that this last observation partially bypasses the gender variable. The issue of exclusion on social and economic grounds, and in some ethnic countries, is not just about gender, but gender is not a structural aspect, and requires policies. For this reason, I read with a bit of bitterness that during the birth of the OWSD branch, it was not possible on the same day to ratify the UN resolution to mark October 11 as International OWSD Day. girl.
My hope is that the Dominican branch of OWSD is not limited to the immediate goals of the organization and faces these and other problems. Having an OWSD Friends membership ensures that the women in the branch will not be alone in this.
OWSD is an organization for women in science, and its goals are very specific. However, it should not be necessary to remember that increasing its membership is an important goal, yes, increasing its contribution to scientific development is an important goal, but it is indispensable to confront social problems that cannot be ignored, without covering our eyes, ranging from teenage pregnancy to sexual harassment.
An indirect link to the main topic? no!
It is trivial to note the impact of teenage pregnancy, and the influence on the subject of science is not the main one.
The metoo movement contributed to highlighting the existence of the problem in the academy and in the classrooms of the university itself. I refer the reader to an excellent article on this topic: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15236803.2021.1877983which I limit myself to citing data from a report by the Association of American Universities, according to which at least 13% of women in academia (a survey of 33 top universities) have experienced sexual harassment by a teacher
In the past two years I had the honor of being able to organize two MESCyT seminars as part of the annual conference. In both, gender issues had a place, and in one case the focus was on the issue of the need for inclusive education. We hope that the movement that led to the creation of this chapter will have the success it deserves and that initiatives of this kind can be eliminated because they are unnecessary in a society where gender does not generate inequality. In the meantime, my best wishes for success and thanks to Denia and her colleagues (already mentioned, Selena Fermin, Jamery e Ruiz, Lysette Rodriguez and Maria Guadalupe Silva Vietri) for their commitment.