Gonçalo Lopes, a team member from the Network Services Area, offers his contribution to GÉANT's #WomenInSTEM campaign, highlighting examples from his professional career that illustrate the importance of making a change. During the month of March, the FCCN Unit gives the opinion of several of its employees about gender diversity and the importance of the role of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
It is a reality that the field of science and technology has a much lower representation of women than men, even though there are several studies that show that gender diversity is highly beneficial. Some time ago I heard an expression that I think is appropriate: "if you always look at the same side of a cube, you will believe that it is a square. We can only see the whole cube if we are somehow shown the other faces. Greater gender diversity brings us into contact with people with different experiences and ideologies. The learning that can result from this helps us to complete our way of being, being, and working.
I was able to experience these benefits during my student days. Being somewhat introverted, the first people I came into contact with were the ones I formed a working group with at the beginning of my degree, and they happened to be only guys. At this stage we all had more or less the same ideas and working methodologies, which was enough, but far from ideal. As friendships were made, we formed a more gender diverse group of friends and work. We started to work in a more organized and focused way, much due to the influence of the girls, which resulted in a very significant increase in the performance of everyone.
Throughout my academic and professional life, I have never felt any difference in terms of ability or vocation for the area, and I do not think this is the justification for lower female representation. After reading and reflecting a bit on the subject, I realized that the reasons for this seem to stem from societal influences in general, which seem to imply that because it is a field with a much more substantial male representation, it is a field "just for men". The process of increasing female representation will not be trivial and I don't think I can provide a concrete solution, but I am sure that we will overcome this stigma together.