Despite the fact that female representation in science is still low, three Ecuadorian researchers seek to bridge the gap with their work.
Latin America, together with Central Asia, is one of the regions where there is a poor representation of women in fields of science.
According to data from UN Women, countries like Argentina, Cuba, Panama and Uruguay have reached a certain parity in STEM careers or those related to mathematics and technology.
In Ecuador, the gap between scientists is narrowing, and 41.1% of researchers are already women.
An example of this are the profiles of these three Ecuadorians, which PRIMICIAS presents, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, commemorated on March 8.
UNESCO experts, such as Valtencir Mendes, point out that it is the duty of families and schools to give girls and women equal access to STEM careers.
“The main gender gaps in the region in technology and science are generated in the early years of childhood,” says Mendes.
And this is known by the researcher Claudia Segovia , who in addition to being a biologist and PhD in Botany, has spent years forming networks and groups that promote the work of Ecuadorian scientists.
According to Segovia, a “girl can’t do something she can’t see”. Hence, the importance that she knows the advances of Ecuadorian researchers, so that they are inspired by her vocation.
In 2017, Segovia co-founded the Ecuadorian Network of Women Scientists (Remci), a non-profit organization that makes women’s achievements in science visible in the country.
They also promote the available scholarships, the publications made by Ecuadorians, and raise awareness of the importance of having more women scientists.
In March, Segovia comments that they are preparing several conferences at the national level, and “it is planned to inaugurate the Exhibition of Women Protagonists of Science ” at the SEK International University, in Quito.
Patricio Castillo Briceño, one of the few experts in the country on ocean acidification, is also part of the Ecuadorian network of Women Scientists. This process is the loss of pH in the seas, due to the absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
Castillo is co-founder of Remci and coordinates the organization’s node in Manabí. In fact, she graduated as a marine biologist from the Eloy Alfaro University in the province and has a PhD. in Biomedicine from the University of Murcia.
Since the end of February, the scientist has been on a mission in Antarctica, collecting samples between the islands around the Ecuadorian Scientific Station.
“In this first phase of the project, we seek to find out the current conditions of the carbonate system from the perspective of the organisms that use them,” explains Castillo, who uses his Twitter account as a blog to detail the mission.
The laboratory analysis carried out by Castillo will serve to deepen the studies on the acidification, oxygen and nutrients of marine waters of the Robert, Barrientos and Dee islands in the Antarctic Peninsula.
But Castillo’s work is not limited to the seas, because he also conducts research on the effect of environmental changes on marine fauna and ecosystems.
In 2022, the MIT Institute’s technology magazine chose 35 inventors under the age of 35. And among all of them is the young Ecuadorian Carolina Placencia.
“His low-cost filter for faucets improves the quality of water for human consumption,” says MIT about the 30-year-old researcher.
Placencia is co-founder of Yakupura, the startup that created an innovative filter that reduces chlorine, heavy metals and pesticides from water.
The young woman graduated in environmental engineering from the San Francisco de Quito University, and also has a master’s degree in business administration from Tel Aviv University.
His invention and company arose in 2019 from an experience he had abroad, not being able to drink tap water due to excess chlorine. The filter is already sold in supermarket chains and stores in Ecuador.
“This year we opened operations in Peru and began to sell in Panama,” says Placencia.
For her, Ecuadorian and Latin American women are achieving great representation in the technological ecosystem and in various industries.
He points out that in addition to the expansion that the product may have, Yakupura’s goal is to seek innovative solutions related to safe drinking water.
“This includes the link with projects to bring water to communities without access,” adds the young woman.