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International Day of Women and Girls in Science: portraits of female DRFZ employees

Today we celebrate the #InternationalDayofWomenandGirlsinScience by presenting portraits of some of the many women working at the DRFZ. A random composition under difficult corona conditions – representing all female scientists and those supporting science at the DRFZ. Of course, we all work together with men –  but today the focus is on the women!

Women and girls make up about half of the world’s population, yet according to UNESCO data, the proportion of female scientists worldwide is only 29% (D: 28%). While women account for half of PhD students, only a fraction of them later finds themselves in leadership positions. Persistent gender stereotypes and structural barriers, such as, among others, a higher proportion of fixed-term contracts and preference for male applicants in recruitment processes reduce the chances of success for female scientists.

Anna, veterinarian: As animal welfare officer, I advocate for animal welfare-oriented science. As Equal Opportunities Officer, I also promote gender equality at the DRFZ. © DRFZ

Aayushi, PhD Researcher: Investigating how microbiota in our body can interact and influence our immune system. © DRFZ

Chiara, group leader and spokeswoman of the Leibniz-ScienceCampus Chronic Inflammation: investigating mechanisms of inflammation and improving therapies. © DRFZ

Roodline, PhD student: My research aims to uncover new cytokine pathways that can serve as new therapeutic targets in inflammatory diseases. (See citation below) © Roodline

Anja, group leader: My passion are observational studies and their potential to investigate the safety and effectiveness of new therapies and to identify disease-specific determinants. © DRFZ

Vajiheh, PhD student: My enthusiasm for science and research led me to explore the crosstalk between the epithelial cells and macrophages in the inflammatory bowel diseases © Vajiheh

Manuela, lab manger: Supporting DRFZ research with my expertise. © DRFZ

Antje, IT Head: No Science without IT! © DRFZ

Siska, PhD researcher: Investigating the role of clock genes in human immune cells through gene editing by Crispr Cas9 technology. © DRFZ

Jenny, Biochemist: I can distinguish and sort cells by their 'colour'. © DRFZ

Daniela, Scientist, PhD candidate: I explore how immunity and inflammation integrate together and impact our health! © DRFZ

Christina, PhD student: Exploring the complex unknowns of the immune system with curiosity in order to contribute to a detailed understanding. © DRFZ

Johanna, Statistician: My area of research is the situation of people with rheumatic diseases in Germany. With the data we collect at the DRFZ we can show that there remains a lot to be done. (Further quote below). © DRFZ

Marion, technician: I'm fascinated by the interplay of cells and how every little detail sustains life. Hand in hand, in a team! © DRFZ

Julia, group leader: Analyzing how epigenomic imprinting shapes the immune system in health and disease and using this knowledge for therapeutic intervention. © Julia

Raluca, Group Leader: Developing microscopy to understand the spatio-temporal cellular orchestration governing health and disease © Raluca

My name is Aya. In my MD research project I’m investigating the role of the newly discovered cytokine Oncostatin M in inflammatory bowel disease and especially its histopathological expression pattern in health and disease. (See citation below)

Anja, group leader: I am having fun understanding the dynamics and complexity of the immune system - especially with the help of a microscope. © DRFZ

Mairi, scientific coordinator: Coordinating mostly international projects that the institute or the Director are involved with. © Mairi

Heike, Technician: Contributing to the research of personalized therapies. © DRFZ

Victoria, PhD student: What fascinates me about microbiota research is that bacteria improve our lives and our health. © DRFZ

Katrin, Scientific Coordinator: Science needs communication © DRFZ

Lisa, (she/her), PhD Student: Investigating the bacteria of the human gut flora for disease-triggering molecules. © Lisa

Caro, postdoctoral researcher: (Literally!) watching immune cells at work - with laser based microscopes. © DRFZ

Mona, Biotechnologist: Finding an explanation for current diseases and discovering new therapeutic targets with science. © DRFZ

Anne, deputy group leader: since my clinical work, I have been passionate about patient-oriented research. We try to answer questions from everyday clinical life with interdisciplinary collaboration and the chances of digitalization. Accurate data analysis can make the difference for patients. © DRFZ

Marta, postdoc scientist: Understanding something other people still don’t know. © DRFZ

Eva, Science Coordinator: This never gets boring and involves a lot of teamwork. It's a lot of fun for me, even after almost 10 years at the DRFZ now. © DRFZ

Anna, (she/her), PhD researcher: Looking into the microscopic interactions between big eater cells with their surroundings. © DRFZ

Jacqueline and Ute, Public Relation: Translating DRFZ research for the public. © DRFZ

Jun, MD, Project Leader: Exploring the compartmentalization, maintenance and reactivation of human bone marrow resident and blood circulating memory T lymphocytes. © Jun

Sandy, PhD Researcher: Studying the link between immune cell’s location in the tissue and their function. As PhD representative, providing information for DRFZ’s doctoral researchers & organizing (virtual) social events to strengthen communication. © DRFZ

Padmavathy, PhD student: I’m finding my way through to survive and become these amazing plasma/memory B cells - with some vitamin A and D supplements. © Padmayathy

Elke, Science Officer: For me, science is the interplay of curiosity, collaborations and strategic planning. © DRFZ

Kirsten, pediatric rheumatologist: Understanding arthritis in children and treating it in the best possible way. © DRFZ

Despite these hurdles, women are succeeding in creating groundbreaking research and innovations in a wide range of disciplines. Their contribution is essential for scientific and technological progress. Only a diverse research landscape can foster the creativity, new ideas and perspectives that pave the way for our future.

Portraits of female DRFZ employees highlight the important contribution women make to rheumatism research.  With their portrayal, they want to jointly set an example for greater diversity in science and encourage girls and women to pursue a career in science.

Anna Pfeffer

Equal Opportunities Officer at the DRFZ


Or to put it another way:

Roodline Cineus, Doctoral Candidate, Charité and DRFZ:

As a young woman in research, I have learned to be my own cheerleader. I have learned to trust and empower myself, not allowing anyone to detract my curiosity or creativity because of my gender. Women who are scientist go against the grain, assuming the responsibility to chart a different path that inspires young girls to pursue their curiosities.

Another personal view:

Aya Abdel Rahman, MD student:

As a young woman in research I learned to stand for myself and that my opinion is important. I also learned that research is nothing for lone wolves and how important and life changing it can be to only ask for help! Reaching out to others is not a weakness - but a sign of strength!

And: There has to be enthusiasm:

Johanna Callhoff, Statistician:

The best moments in my work life are when I see that our research really helps to improve the lives of persons with rheumatic diseases.

More background links about this special day

United Nations - International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11 February
UN: Virtual essembly to celebrate the day: "Beyond the Borders: Equality in Science for Society"
German Commission for UNESCO - Background to this special day
"Wissenschaft braucht die besten Köpfe. Allerdings wird immer noch viel Forschungspotenzial verschenkt, da zu wenige hochqualifizierte Frauen in der Forschung arbeiten."
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