Sylvaine Turck-Chièze, “The struggle for gender parity in the sciences”

Today, DiscovHer introduces you to Sylvaine Turck-Chièze, an astrophysicist who, beyond her own research, works tirelessly to campaign for women working or interested in STEM fields, through her position as the President of Femmes & Sciences, a French association bringing together female scientists from all sectors and backgrounds.

The gender disparity within the scientific fields is a global phenomenon, an issue arising from the discouragement women receive from a young age against joining these fields, which follows them throughout their career, leads many into more “women-friendly” career alternatives. In other scenarios, those who choose to remain in these fields often find their careers stagnating after some time, especially if they choose to start a family, and are often underpaid compared to their male colleagues. This leads to a vicious cycle in which the next generation is discouraged from taking up the sciences due to the frustration they expect to experience.

This is why associations like Femmes & Sciences exist. The association has four key missions: promote science to women to motivate them to join the field and promote women who are in the sciences; strengthen the status of women working in science, and improve their career conditions and prospects; bring together female scientists from all backgrounds and sectors under a multi-disciplinary association; and finally, raise awareness on the situation of women working in STEM careers and research.

Sylvaine Turck-Chièze has chaired this association since 2014, and is herself a renowned astrophysicist specializing in the seismology of the sun and stars. She is a member of the International Astronomical Union, and was also named a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor for her work at the Commission on Atomic Energy (CEA), where she is a research director, and for her work with the Association.

In her first message as president of Femmes & Sciences, she emphasized the importance of having a balance between men and women in the scientific domains if we were going to have any chance at solving the new challenges was now facing. She highlighted the urgency of change due to the challenges the youth face today, such as unemployment, lower wages, and the focus on immediate financial rewards, which of course is not feasible in many science-based projects. More importantly, she discussed the need to encourage and educate both young women and young men, because the only way forward is through collaboration.

Through her leadership and dedication, Sylvaine Turck-Chièze may very well find the catalyst to achieve gender parity in the sciences, at least in France!

Find out more about the Femmes & Sciences Association here, and let us know what you think @4womeninscience.

For Women in Science

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