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Amparo Navarro warns of the danger of a digital divide if women do not join the technological revolution

The University of Alicante presented the  2021  Equality Award to the Association of Women Researchers and Technologists (AMIT)

 

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Alicante, Friday 26 March 2021

University of Alicante President Amparo Navarro presented the 2021 Equality Award to the Association of Women Researchers and Technologists (AMIT), which was collected by its chairwoman Carmen Fenoll in a ceremony held in the UA Auditorium under strict health measures.

Navarro stressed that AMIT has shown that it is necessary to keep on working firmly for the sake of equality, in this case of female researchers and technologists in all fields through the #NoMoreMatildas campaign and their own existence.

In her speech, the UA President pointed out the worrying situation of women in technological careers, in which"there is a perceived under-representation of women researchers with only 24 percent in Engineering and Technology and 34 percent in Natural Sciences. She also warned that although we do not know the exact reason and whether there is a bias derived from the absence of references and models in these fields, or due to the gender stereotypes of each of the professions, there could be a digital and technological gap, which we must avoid at all costs.

In this sense, the highest authority of the University of Alicante pointed out that thanks to the so-called Matilda effect, many people have learned that this problem also occurs in other scientific fields, such as the Humanities or Social Sciences where we find women writers, painters, jurists or economists who have not been sufficiently visible throughout history.

Amparo Navarro stressed that AMIT has managed to be the voice of these professionals and claimed that the University of Alicante Equality Award, in addition to recognising careers that contribute to the promotion of gender equality, aims to raise awareness in society about the gender inequalities that still exist and. This is the way in our institution to show our commitment, our work to strengthen education in equality, to break stereotypes and glass ceilings, to bring to normal what is still, unfortunately, not normal in many circles of society.

Carmen Fenoll, chairwoman of the Association of Women Researchers and Technologists (AMIT), thanked the University of Alicante for the award; in particular the Faculty of Science for the initiative to vindicate and describe a situation that represents a historical injustice that we as a society must recognise and repair.

The world of research, which is apparently governed by merit and ability, has not escaped this scourge, she denounced, before going on to highlight the campaign #NoMOreMatildas carried out this year by the association she presides over, which was created to rescue some great women scientists of the past from oblivion and also provides the keys to why we should care so much about the historical marginalisation of women scientists and why we can no longer wait for action.

Fenoll wondered whether, partly as a consequence of this lost of reference points, girls do not see themselves as scientists, nor do they believe they are qualified to be so, while denouncing that we are still below 25% at the top of research and academia, and we do not contribute on an equal footing to decision-making. She also warned that the situation in fields such as Computer Science or Engineering is not only not improving but getting worse. The number of female university students is decreasing in these fields of study and she ended up with a question:  What will happen in 10 years’ time?

Fenoll also gave an illustrative explanation about the reason for the crusade undertaken by the nine female researchers who founded AMIT back in 2001, 20 years ago. They did not denounce this situation just because it was a matter of justice, they were alarmed because society cannot miss so much talent to solve major challenges to have a future. Let us not forget that half of all human brains are women. And let us not forget that the full incorporation of women into the workplace would increase GDP by 1 point, which is no small thing,

In terms of the future, the chairwoman of AMIT shouted out loud about the absence of a women's perspective in the development of Artificial Intelligence and predicted that if this continues, we will be building a biased, inadequate and ineffective world.

Before concluding, she issued a new warning: she said that there is no justification for wasting so much talent since Spain cannot afford to miss half of its talent or have it relegated, underemployed or eternally abroad. 

AMIT

Vice President for Equality, Inclusion and Social Responsibility Eva Espinar was in charge of describing the Association of Women Researchers and Technologists (AMIT), which received the 2021 Equality Award from the University of Alicante.

Espinar stressed that the association is, in itself, a sample of the diversity of scientific and technological work. Thus, AMIT brings together physicists, chemists, philosophers, sociologists, architects, mathematicians, economists and a long etcetera. In fact, although 35% of its members come from the experimental sciences, there is a high presence of women researchers from the humanities, social and legal sciences, health, engineering and architecture.

In the portrayal of AMIT that she presented, there was space for the campaign that has placed the association at the centre of the fight for equality today, and she highlighted one of the campaign phrases: "Talent has no gender and ignoring the talent that could be developed in young and adolescent girls with no choice of a scientific career because they have no mirrors to see themselves reflected, is a cultural heritage that we can no longer afford”.

 

 

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