elEconomista celebrated this Wednesday the third edition of its Hypatia – Women and Innovation Awards, born in 2019 to recognize the female talent of Spanish scientists and reward each year those whose performance has been the most outstanding, in any of their disciplines.
The gala, which has had the collaboration of Caser, Novartis, PharmaMar, Sacyr, Telefónica and Santander, was inaugurated on this occasion by Sofía Miranda, head of the Sports Delegate Area of the Madrid City Council. Prior to the awards ceremony, directors of companies and institutions such as Novartis, the CSIC, the Autonomous University of Madrid, Genomica, Telefónica or Womenalia have debated the evolution of the role of women in science and their presence in STEM careers .
It should be noted that, according to the Scientific report in figures 2021, published by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the presence of female researchers has been growing in recent years, so that they already reach 41% of the research staff, above the average European. However, in the business sector the proportion falls to 32%.
The laureates in the third edition of the Hypatia Awards have been a researcher in the area of sustainable chemistry; a specialist in the field of ophthalmic technology and a foundation that stands out for its recognition and promotion of women scientists around the world.
María Escudero was the recipient of the Hipatia Award for Young Scientific Talent, for her work in the development of new alloys for use in catalysts for energy conversion devices and water electrolyzers suitable for coupling to solar panels or wind turbines.
In her speech by videoconference – the writer and editor Elena Medel collected the award on her behalf – Escribano acknowledged that “the research career is very hard, but it is full of rewards.” One of the most important, in the opinion of Escribano, is the possibility of working on solving major problems, such as climate change: for example, on the decarbonisation of the chemical industry, as is his case.
In his speech, Escribano warned that “there are many girls and young girls who like science and technology, but who do not study them because they have no references.” However, he sent a message of optimism, since with the support of family and teachers “we can all achieve our dreams.”
María Escribano, who has been developing her research work outside of Spain for 10 years, is director of the Nanoelectrochemistry Group at the University of Copenhagen and co-principal investigator of the Center for the Catalysis of High Entropy Alloys at said university.
The value of recognition
The Hipatia Award for Scientific Career went to Susana Marcos, who also attended the gala online. Marcos’ work has been and continues to be focused on the development of new technologies for the diagnosis and correction of ocular conditions. The woman from Salamanca took advantage of her intervention to highlight the opportunity of the awards to “value the work of women scientists” and to thank, in addition, the support of family, teachers, collaborators, agencies and colleagues.
Likewise, Marcos stressed that, although she also works outside of Spain, there are highly talented women scientists “who not only do not leave, but have come,” and cited the case of Judith Birkenfeld, postdoctoral researcher and L’Oréal 2020 Prize winner. , who picked up the award instead.
Susana Marcos is distinguished for having created non-invasive techniques to evaluate the optical and structural properties of the eye and applies them to the study of the biology of the visual system, the early diagnosis of eye diseases or the improvement of cataract surgery and intraocular lenses.
Marcos is a research professor and director of the Laboratory of Visual Optics and Biophotonics of the Optics Institute of the CSIC and vice-president of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the State Research Agency. In addition to publishing more than 130 articles and co-inventing 12 patent families, Marcos is now working on the development of an intraocular lens aimed at combating presbyopia.
Finally, the Hipatia Empresa y Ciencia Award went to the L’Oréal Foundation, in recognition of its For Women in Science initiative, which, for more than two decades and in collaboration with Unesco, has been empowering women to achieve excellence scientific and participate, under equal conditions, in solving the great challenges of our time.
Cristina Biurrun, scientific director of L’Oréal Spain, highlighted in her speech that “science and research are part of the company’s DNA and the engine of growth of its business” since its creation in 1908. Likewise, Birrrun claimed the role L’Oréal as “the world’s leading cosmetics company that invests the most in research”, with an annual turnover of close to 1,000 million euros.
Biurrun highlighted that since the creation of this program in 1998, “we have supported more than 3,600 women scientists,” including two international laureates: biochemists Margarita Salas and Ángela Nieto.