day of women and girls in science!

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, is implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women, in collaboration with partners that aim to promote women and girls in science. Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO.  In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015. At Wetsus, we fully support this day and the goals.  The same goes for Girls’ day .

We asked a few Wetsus women to share their thoughts on Women and Girls in Science.

PhD candidate Jolanda: “I want to contribute to society, to empower people, and continue to fight for equality.”
“As far as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the sciences. Both my parents are chemists, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise. In that sense, I had great role models to pursue a STEM career and should feel like I belong there.
Yet it was at my bachelor’s study that I felt out of place at times. Most professors were male, and still now, in my PhD most people in higher positions are men. They are great people, but I notice I try to surround myself with more women inside and outside of Wetsus. In general, men and women have different styles of communicating.
So, it’s great to have an increasing number of women in science. People should feel great and comfortable at their workplace. But the fight for equality is not over yet. If we want to make a difference, we can. I want to contribute to society, empower people, and continue fighting for equality. That’s why I am here.”

Postdoc Amanda: “I want to show young women that there is so much you can do in science and engineering.”
“I’ve always been good with numbers and love the puzzling elements of science. It all makes sense and gets you answers. But I never knew what I would want to do for a living. In the environment I grew up, you either wanted to become a medical doctor or did not get into engineering and science.
I feel like I always missed out on all sorts of possibilities. I’m glad I did pursue a career in engineering, though I cannot help but feel like there still is too little inspiration – especially for women – on what it means to be an engineer.
That’s why I joined a program during my PhD to introduce young girls into the fields of science and engineering—giving it my own water twist, of course. I felt like I could really connect with them and show their possibilities and powers.
There is so much we can do to inform, opinionate, and inspire young girls to pursue science careers. And that’s one of my drivers, too – let young people have options I missed out on in the past.”

Research management team member Inez: “Feel empowered, be your own role model and embrace diversity.”

“I grew up in a family of teachers. With my mom being passionate about biology and my dad about history, I naturally was driven by their fields, and I was good at those fields in school. Though I was nudged slowly into the sciences as my friends liked it too, more importantly, Marie Curie always has been a role model to me.

Marie Curie really showed strength and vision, she was a scientist who happened to be a woman. She pushed her life to the extreme for that. I admire her persistence, especially for a woman in that time. And still, today, it requires strength to pursue. Remarkably, only one generation before me, female school teachers would be fired from their jobs as they got married, expecting them to become housewives.

Luckily, we’ve entered a generation that refutes these ideas. That is more willing to embrace the vision of different people, including women— an essential element to innovation in science. I admire young women working on science today. They are as much an inspiration to me as Marie Curie was in my youth. We have come a long way, yet the inclusion of visions and diversity requires continuous efforts from society as a whole, including men.

Try to inspire others. Women should not try to mimic men, be your own role model and take the chances that you can get. That’s what I’ve been going for, and I feel well at place at Wetsus because of it.”

The resolution the UN General Assembly adopted: resolution A/RES/70/212


Towards an economy of value preservation | By Niels Faber


The realisation of a circular economy has thus far unfolded under the assumption that it would fit within existing economic arrangements. In practice, we witness many circular initiatives struggling to give shape to their ambitions, let alone develop to maturity. These past months, various material recycling organisations terminated their activities, seeing virgin alternatives from other parts of the world flooding the market at prices against they cannot compete. If the transition towards a circular economy (i.e. an economy of value preservation) is to be taken seriously, a new perspective on value in our economic system seems unavoidable, as the rewriting of the rules of the economic game. At this moment, current perceptions of value stand in the way of this transition both at micro as well as macro levels. Several contours for a collective exploration of new directions of value and economic configuration that foster circular transition will be addressed.

Searching Innovation for the Common Good | By Cees Buisman


In his key note he will conclude after a life of innovations that it is impossible that humanity will stay within the save planetary boundaries with innovation only. We should be more critical about the behaviour of the rich population in the world and more critical about new innovations that prove to be dangerous, like the PFAS crisis shows at this moment. In his keynote he will investigate how to look at the world that can stay within the save planetary boundaries, how should we change ourselves? It is clear if we only talk about the words of science and systems we miss the essential words of how we should cooperate and change ourselves. And his search for coherent save innovations. Which innovations will be save and will lead to a fair and sustainable world? And will lead to a world we want to live in.

Future-fit economic models: What do they have in common – how can they join forces? | By Christian Felber


There is a growing number of new sustainable, inclusive, cohesive, participatory, just and humane economic models. A possible next step in the discourse about them is the comparative analysis in order to find out key commonalities, potential synergies, and “requirements” for a future-fit economic model. The author and initiator of the Economy for the Common Good provides an overview of these „new sustainable economic models“ and compares them according to underlying values, principles, and practical ways of implementation. The keynote addresses the cooperative spirit of the conference and prepares the ground for its public highlight on the eve of June 3rd, the round table with representatives of diverse future-fit economic models.

The era of postgrowth economics | By Matthias Olthaar


The scientific debate on whether economies should always continue to grow increasingly becomes a political and societal debate. On the one hand further growth for the most affluent countries seems neither possible nor valuable, but on the other hand there is still lack of understanding and knowledge what a non-growing economy should look like and could best be governed. In this lecture we discuss various policy measures that can be realistically implemented, take into account government finances and aim at a higher quality of life despite a non-growing economy.

Democratic principles for a sustainable economy | By Lisa Herzog


Democracy is under pressure, and less and less able to stir the economy into a sustainable direction. Therefore, to stabilize democracy and to make possible the socio-ecological transformation of the economy, democratic principles need to be implemented directly in the economy. This is not only a matter of morality, but also has practical advantages. Democratizing the economy can increase legitimacy and take advantage of the “knowledge of the many” to accelerate the transformation. Democratic practices, especially deliberation, allow bringing together different forms of knowledge, which is crucial for the local implementation of principles of social and ecological sustainability. This talk explores what this idea means in more concrete terms, from democratic participation in the workplace to the democratization of time.

Market, state, association, and well-being. An historical approach | By Bas van Bavel


Over the past decades, markets have conventionally been seen as the best instrument to stimulate economic growth and enhance prosperity and well-being. The automatic link between markets and economic growth is increasingly questioned, however, as well as the automatic link between economic growth and enhancement of well-being. This has led to attempts to capture well-being development more directly than through GDP per capita figures and has produced a more variegated picture of well-being growth. Also, this has led to a shift of focus to other coordination systems than the market, as primarily the state but increasingly also the association. Analyses of the historical record suggest that especially the latter could be a vital component in future well-being.