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Outstanding scientific discoveries require diverse perspectives, and innovative results stem from diverse approaches. There are many recent examples of women scientists playing a leading role in making outstanding discoveries, most notably, the current Nobel Prize for Chemistry went to two women for their role in developing the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system, and BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine is based on groundbreaking research by women. Yet women remain underrepresented in the scientific world, especially in top-level positions at universities and research institutions. Women make up 50 percent of all PhD students, but hold only 25 percent of professorships. Biases and gender stereotypes, but also structural barriers in the scientific system make it more difficult for women to succeed in science. Women are more likely than men to have temporary contracts, work part-time and earn less for the same work. Citation rates are skewed in favor of men, and women are less likely to be considered for appointments. The discussion event on February 11 will address all of these topics.

It will kick off with a virtual screening of the documentary film “Picture a Scientist.” The documentary follows three female researchers – a biologist, a chemist and a geologist – as they go about their work in the laboratory or in the polar region, exploring their experiences with institutional discrimination, gender bias and sexual harassment. Jennifer Doudna, the 2020 Nobel laureate in chemistry, says: “The film is a must-see for everyone working in science. We need to have a sincere debate about the problem of sexism in the natural sciences and also acknowledge that the consequences are even worse for women scientists from ethnic minority backgrounds. We must act as a cohesive community to stop wrongdoers, to prevent harassment and discrimination, to admit our biases and consciously avoid acting upon them, and to support girls and women throughout their scientific careers. Everyone is welcome in science and everyone deserves an equal starting point.”

Karin Höhne, the BIH’s Equal Opportunity Officer, and Dr. Christiane Nolte, the MDC’s Women’s Representative, have jointly organized the program for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Prof. Marieke van den Brink, Professor of Gender and Diversity at Radboud University in the Netherlands, is scheduled to give the keynote lecture. She will explore the question of how universities and research institutions can become more inclusive. The panel discussion that follows will includes women scientists from the BIH, the MDC, the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) in Spain.

The program at a glance

Virtual screening of the documentary film “Picture a Scientist”:
February 9, 6:00 p.m. CET – February 12, 6:00 p.m. CET

February 11, 2021

4:00 p.m. CET – Opening and welcome
Prof. Baum, Scientific Director of the BIH
Prof. Graßmann, Administrative Director of the MDC

4:15 p.m. CET – Keynote lecture “Gender Inclusion in Higher Education”
Prof. Marieke van den Brink, Radboud University, the Netherlands

5:15 p.m. CET – Panel discussion on gender equity in science
Prof. Claudia Langenberg | Berlin Institute of Health, Germany
Dr. Daniela Panáková | Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Germany
Prof. Marysia Placzek | University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Prof. Barbara Rivera Polo | IDIBELL, Spain; McGill University, Canada

The event will be held in English.

For registration and more information, visit:


Dr. Stefanie Seltmann
Head of Communication & Marketing
+49 (0) 30 450 543019