BOGOTÁ 3, COLOMBIA
Panel Discussion "The role of women in the development of physics",
held on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 as part of the XX
Semana de la Enseñanza de la Física at Universidad Distrital Francisco
José de Caldas, Sede Macarena A in Bogota, Colombia.
The opening was organised and the discussion lead by Carolina Neira.
Five of the professors attending the event participated in the discussion:
- Luz Ángela Camacho Beltrán (Universidad de los Andes)
- Olga Lucía Castiblanco Abril (Universidad Distrital)
- Paula Giraldo Gallo (Universidad de los Andes)
- Esperanza del Pilar Infante Luna (Universidad Distrital)
- Corinne Manogue (Oregon State University)
Each of them made a short presentation of herself based on the
A. How and when did you choose to pursue a career in Physics?
B. Were you motivated by family, friends or people around you?
C. What would you recommend to a young woman who wants to start a career in Physics?
D. What is your favorite personal achievement in Physics?
After this, the participants discussed around the question:
Do you think it is more difficult for a woman than for a man to pursue a career in
Physics and why? Here they compared the situation of women in Physics
in Colombia with those of other countries according to their experiences.
Some of the ideas that were discussed are:
1. Sexism is something that many women have fixed in their minds and their
everyday life is governed by that. It is necessary to stop victimizing and
work as well as possible, because prejudices are often the reason
that do not allow a woman to pursue a career in academy.
2. The discrimination suffered by some women in the academy,
often comes from women in higher positions. Some of
the participants indicated that it is very difficult to compete with other
women, while others stated that they had not experienced this because
in most of their careers they have been surrounded mainly by men.
3. Women live and work in environments that are governed by male
rules, and it is necessary to find ways for society to understand that
women can bring a different perspective in science.
4. In some places in the United States a woman is allowed to add on
her curriculum vitae the time they have taken to raise their children.
From this point of view the right to privacy is respected, and this
was stressed to the attendees in the panel; for them it is very
important to carry both a life as a scientist, as well as leading a
life outside of the academy, for example being mothers and having a
5. Many women in science have the Marie-Curie Syndrome: they compare
to other women who are at a very high level in their careers, and
therefore they feel inferior. It is common for a woman in the academy
to think "If I am not as good as her, then I I cannot do it".
6. If in a job interview a woman "sells herself" she is considered as
arrogant, and by not doing that she loses valuable opportunities to
continue in her career. This is not the case for men, for in general
they think that if they need a job and they are
enough to get it out, then they are fit to do it, and thus they take
the opportunities they face.
7. It is necessary to avoid stereotyping about other people, because
this limits the development of society and it is better to allow the
8. One can perceive the evolution of gender issues in the sciences.
The youngest participants express their astonishment after listening
to the intervention of their colleagues in relation to the difficulty
of doing science as a woman; in their comments one can perceive that
they have not had to suffer the rigors of gender in their profession
compared to her more experienced colleagues. This shows an evidence of
some level of compensation and recognition of the society to this
© César Herreño