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Women in Science: My Account of Struggle and Existence During the Pandemic

Women in Science: My Account of Struggle and Existence During the Pandemic

“Mulher na Ciência” is the name of my book which will be released on September 30th face the publisher In Adufes, on the sanctuary of Goiabeiras Ufes. At work, I tell a little about my personal experience of living as a scientist in a world so turbulent not only because of the pandemic itself, but also because of political issues that conflicted with control measures during the biggest health crisis of this century.

When I decided to write the book, it was my intention to leave a historical record of a unique moment in our lives, so that future generations could better understand what had happened in this country, which until then had been a vaccination reference for the world.

As a feminist campaigning for equal rights, the mark of being a scientist has important gender implications. In a society that is still very sexist and patriarchal, to assert our ideas, defend our causes and make our opinions (even if well-founded) heard and considered, there is still a long struggle going on. In contrast to our fellow scientists, we often have to talk and talk more and speak more assertively so that we can be taken seriously in an environment that is still too oppressive for women.

Cover of “Women in Science” by Ethel Maciel. Credit: Disclosure

As we struggle to exist in this context, we are never complete: there are always so many tasks we need to divide ourselves by, and they are not the same for men in science.

During this work, I talk a lot about options. How the choices we make take us to places we didn’t initially imagine, but which somehow seems to be exactly where we should be. After only four days of not being appointed dean, despite being elected by the university community, I accepted to join the Situation Room with the state government, along with Governor Renato Casagrande and Deputy Governor Jacqueline Moraes. The first actions, the first choices that had to be made to protect lives, the differences and backgrounds that led me to the new choices.

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In the midst of this, being invited to write a science column for A Gazeta allowed me to have a closer conversation with the community. Then the weekly program on CBN Vitória, which I consider to be one of the experiences that prepares me for a more effective scientific dissemination. With this, building bonds, a relationship of trust with the community. I have been very surprised with people of all ages, social classes, and creeds talking to me and asking for my advice on how to do a certain task more or less safely in the middle of the pandemic.

Then the experience of participating in the national vaccination plan against COVID-19. Behind the scenes, disagreements with the federal government wanted to limit the number of vaccines. Sending the plan without our authorization to the STF and its aftermath to expose the farce of the plan that did not consider the population.

In this challenging path we’ve all taken, I sketch a little about how a scientist with a highly academic background needs to reinvent herself and leave a rigorous scientific connection to opposing narratives in the space of society, in the midst of a wave of denial, where science is put to the test as an explanation for what happened during a pandemic.

I invite the reader to take me back to the time-out from February 2020 to December 2021, when I finished the book. Fortunately, with the Brazilian people vaccinated and already receiving their first booster doses. Finally, I share a little of my personal experience, when I received a diagnosis of Covid-19, having already been vaccinated, in a context much less dangerous than the one that claimed the lives of thousands of Brazilians who did not have the same chance.

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There were many battles and battles in the open against visible and invisible enemies, I remember and pay respect to the thousands of lives lost. This book pays tribute to them, hoping that their premature departure will not go in vain. May we learn our lesson: In turbulent times, science is our best compass to guide us out of the fog.

I decided to make this launch moment to allow me to meet many of the people I’ve spoken to during the pandemic, but haven’t met in person. The event is open and I hope to see you there in Adufes. Amid the chaos we are living in, it is time to celebrate life, science, and the triumph of reason.

This text does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Gazzetta.

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