Women in science – passion and prejudice

“Scientific research requires special talents, just as much as intelligence, passion and diligence. I do not know a single successful scientist who is really lazy, and only very few who are able to pursue at the same time other interests with intensity and success. Reaching a leading position in scientific research is very demanding and requires early independence and perseverance. These truths universally acknowledged hold for both men and women. However, measured by their scientific potential, women, whose intelligence is fortunately no longer disputed, were and still are underrepresented in science, in particular in terms of professorships or leading research positions.

I love being a researcher: it is a great pleasure to discover new things about life, to be able to run
a large lab and to support talented young people in their careers. I used to work long hours in the lab while pursuing my own ideas and observations, but I also have come to enjoy having some power, being involved in decisions in scientific organisations or as an advisor in science policy. I am convinced that I would be unhappy without my science. Therefore, I often think about women of similar passion and personality, but facing circumstances that make it extremely hard or impossible to be successful as a scientist. Where are the problems, what can be done to solve them?”

This article is written by Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, a Nobel Prize winner.