Published: 04-02-2015 14:39 | Updated: 04-02-2015 14:39

CfGM New Year’s Resolutions

Leading researchers and policy-makers look at Gender and Interdisciplinary as real change for 2015.

At the turn of the year, Nature interviewed research leaders to ask their New Year’s Resolution for 2015. The Centre for Gender Medicine reads with enthusiasm that many will consider gender and interdisciplinarity as areas that requires more attention.

“By the end of 2015 [...] I want to have inspired girls and other under-represented groups to pursue — and stick with — careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)”. These are words by Dr. Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA.

Dr. Stofan advise the most important space agency of the world on science programs, strategic planning and investments. With just 20% of academic positions occupied by women in the European Union, the urge to increase equality triggered a number of political resolutions in the past years, with mixed success. But the approach of Dr Stofan is probably the best and strongest: be there, as scientists and communicator, to show to people the powerful role that women may have in research and technology.

2015 will also be a significant year for climate change and sustainability. By the end of the year, the International Climate Change Conference (COP21) promises to draft a new Kyoto protocol to which all UN members will agree to. For the occasion, researchers working on green energy will attempt to imprint a significant acceleration in their discovery via interdisciplinary, says Dr Yi Xie, Professor of chemistry at University of Science and Technology of China.

“By the end of this year I want my laboratory to have substantially improved conversion efficiency for photoelectro-chemical energy”. To achieve this goal, says Dr Xie, “Understanding the relationship between the structure and the function of [the material we use] is key to their practical application. This understanding requires multidisciplinary collaborations”.

The CfGM understood from sometimes that interdisciplinarity is what unlock innovation also in the sphere of medicine. The fact that hard sciences like engineering and chemistry are adopting the same strategy is a healthy sign.

Another woman who is leading a change in the landscape of gender and science is Gloria Bonder, Director of Gender, Society and Policies Area of FLACSO (Latin American School of Social Sciences) in Argentina. “This year [...] I will be honing strategies for data-gathering and project evaluation with policy-makers [...] to weave gender analysis and gender equality goals into mainstream policies”.

Latin America has witnesses important improvement in gender equality in the past ten years, and invoking more effort from policy-makers will not be an easy task. The reason why more change will be difficult to achieve is clearly explained by Dr. Bonder: “we have to recognize that, when dealing with gender issues, and especially in science, no 'success' is secure. After all, we are addressing power relations that influence the way that we perceive, interpret, value and deal with all dimensions of our lives.” We could not agree more.

With this list of promising resolutions, the Centre for Gender Medicine would like to put forward its own new efforts for the 2015. The Centre remains focused on supporting research and education towards innovation in health care. This year, we join the European Gender Medicine Network and most of its initiatives and workshops to design recommendations, guidelines and teaching materials for the implementation of Sex & Gender research for the medical sector.

The CfGM has also been encouraged by the Dean of Doctoral Education - Anders Gustafsson - to continue its activity at Karolinska Institutet, educating the future research leaders on the importance of sex and gender aspects in biomedical research. The Centre wants to expand significantly the impact of everyone’s science, as many others have suggested elsewhere.

In September, the Centre will also be present at the International Meeting for Gender Medicine in Berlin, the most important forum to discuss the future trends of Gender and Innovative research.

Inspired by the work of our international colleagues, and committed to improve Gender Medicine in Sweden, the CfGM wish you all a great 2015.