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. – Opening and welcome Prof. Baum, Scientific Director of the BIH Prof. Graßmann, Administrative Director of the MDC
4:15 p.m. – Keynote lecture “Gender Inclusion in Higher Education” Prof. Marieke van den Brink, Radboud University, the Netherlands
5:15 p.m. – 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
- MDC Eventpage
Dr. Stefanie Seltmann
Head of Communication & Marketing Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)
Translational Research Unit of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
+49 (0) 30 450 543019
Head of Communications
Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)
The mission of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) is medical translation: transferring biomedical research findings into novel approaches to personalized prediction, prevention, diagnostics and therapies and, conversely, using clinical observations to develop new research ideas. The aim is to deliver relevant medical benefits to patients and the population at large. As the translational research unit within Charité, the BIH is also committed to establishing a comprehensive translational ecosystem – one that places emphasis on a system-wide understanding of health and disease and that promotes change in the biomedical translational research culture. The BIH was founded in 2013 and is funded 90 percent by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF ) and 10 percent by the State of Berlin. The founding institutions, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), were independent, member entities within the BIH until 2020. Since 2021 the BIH has been integrated into Charité as the so-called third pillar. The MDC is now the Privileged Partner of the BIH.
The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) was founded in Berlin in 1992. It is named for the German-American physicist Max Delbrück, who was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. The MDC's mission is to study molecular mechanisms in order to understand the origins of disease and thus be able to diagnose, prevent and fight it better and more effectively. In these efforts the MDC cooperates with the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH ) as well as with national partners such as the German Center for Cardiovascular Research and numerous international research institutions. More than 1,600 staff and guests from nearly 60 countries work at the MDC, just under 1,300 of them in scientific research. The MDC is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (90 percent) and the State of Berlin (10 percent), and is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.