Summary and replay of the 3rd IAHR Online Coffee Chat: Picture a Scientist!

The third IAHR Coffee Chat took place on 23 June 2021. The event was organised by Dr. Isabella Schalko from VAW, ETH Zurich under the auspices of the IAHR task force on Strengthening Diversity and Gender Equity

The general idea of the IAHR Coffee Chats is to bring together young professionals with established researchers to discuss various career-related topics with a special focus on women in engineering.

Summary and replay of the 3rd IAHR Online Coffee Chat: Picture a Scientist!The focus of the third coffee chat was on the film Picture a Scientist and took place on the occasion of the International Women in Engineering Day. The film “Picture a Scientist” covers difficult topics related to gender discrimination and race in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as well as perspectives on actions to address those issues. The 30 participants were asked to watch the film prior to the panel discussion with the panellists Prof. Astrid Blom (TU Delft, The Netherlands), Dr. Charléne Gaba (National Institute of Water, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin), Prof. Dalila Loudyi (Hassan II University of Casablanca, Morocco, and member of the task force), and Prof. Rafael Tinoco (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA).

The event started with a short introduction by the panellists and was followed by a moderated discussion. The discussion ranged from “Is the topic of gender equity present in your university”, “How do you respond to subtle discriminations (e.g., being mistaken for a custodian, inappropriate e-mails, …)” to “How can conferences be improved so everyone feels welcome”. The panellists emphasized that representation matters and should be considered when organising a conference, selecting keynote speakers, or for award nominations. They further recommended to use surveys and focus on data in order to raise awareness of inequalities within institutions. In addition, they highlighted the importance of female role models. While the situation for women in engineering has improved over the past decades, all panellists agreed that there are still remaining challenges to tackle.

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Additional coffee chats are planned in the future with topics such as “Promotion and Tenure in Academia”, “Diversity within IAHR – how to get everyone involved”, or “Range of Career Paths”. The next event will be announced via the IAHR website and on social media.

If you have ideas for discussion topics, speakers, or other comments, please feel free to reach out to us.

Dr. Isabella Schalko and IAHR task force on Strengthening Diversity and Gender Equity

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