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Women in the spotlight at Bordeaux Neurocampus

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To celebrate the International Day of Women in Science, a neuroscience seminar took place on Friday 9th February 2024 at Bordeaux Neurocampus, featuring presentations by two female researchers committed to gender equality. On this occasion, the first Marian Diamond award was presented to a post-doctoral researcher for the quality of her research work and her involvement in the scientific community.

Photo : Enrica Montalban, laureate of the Marian Diamond award and Jérôme Baufreton, Director of Bordeaux Neurocampus © Bordeaux Neurocampus
Enrica Montalban, laureate of the Marian Diamond award and Jérôme Baufreton, Director of Bordeaux Neurocampus © Bordeaux Neurocampus

The figures speak for themselves: although women account for a greater proportion of doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows, they are increasingly under-represented as they are expected to advance in their careers. Out of 54 research teams, 79% are led by men. Women are less involved in the decision-making process. Women receive less research funding. These were the findings of a survey on gender inequalities carried out by the Neurocampus parity committee in 2022.

Created in 2020, the purpose of this committee is to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in neuroscience research careers. To this end, and in light of the results of the 2022 survey, the University of Bordeaux supports the committee's proposal to reward a young female neuroscientist at a crucial point in her career: the postdoctoral period. Young female researchers face many obstacles in gaining access to academic positions. Why is this? The imbalance between professional and personal life - and parenthood in particular - is more detrimental to women, as the majority of the domestic mental load still falls on them.

The first Marian Diamond award (in honour of the American pioneer of anatomical neuroscience) was presented on Friday 9th February 2024 to Enrica Montalban, a post-doctoral researcher in the Nutrition and Neuropsychiatric Symptom Dimensions (NutriPsy) team in the Nutrineuro laboratory (Inrae - University of Bordeaux). The 1,000€ prize rewards her early career and aims to help her in her private life, all while providing a stepping stone for the rest of her professional employment. The young researcher will be invited to present her research work to the neuroscience community on 16th May during the Bordeaux Neurocampus Day.

Marian Diamond (1926-2017)

A great and little-known woman of science: this American researcher provided the first scientific evidence of anatomical neuroplasticity in the early 1960s. Later, her work on Einstein's brain - which she transported in a gigantic floral hatbox - gave new impetus to the study of interactions between neurons and glia.

The tribute, via the naming of this women's neuroscience award after her, has been enthusiastically welcomed by Marian Diamond's family.

Discover an excerpt from "My love affair with the Brain: the life and science of Dr Marian Diamond"

The room was fully packed to listen to the two researchers' presentations and to watch the award ceremony, so we're delighted with this success. It means we're making progress!

Jérôme Baufreton, Director of the Bordeaux Neurocampus department
Violetta Zujovic © Bordeaux Neurocampus
Violetta Zujovic © Bordeaux Neurocampus

The researchers' presentations

Violetta Zujovic
Inserm research fellow, Paris Brain Institute (ICM)
"A neuroscientific approach to achieving gender equality"

Despite the growing acceptance of gender equality in democratic societies, a striking contrast persists in today's societal reality. One of the main reasons inequalities between men and women persist is the perpetuation of implicit bias and gender stereotypes. These influence our behaviour, our ability to recognise unequal treatment and the willingness of disadvantaged people to speak out. In this seminar, Violetta Zujovic explained how the neuroscience community is at the forefront of not only raising awareness on these unconscious prejudices, but also of providing tools to understand their cognitive origins and thus break down social stereotypes.

Tara Spires-Jones
Professor, University of Edinburgh, President of the British Neuroscience Association
"Synapse imaging in Alzheimer's disease"

Tara Spires-Jones' research focuses on the mechanisms and reversibility of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease, other degenerative brain diseases and ageing. During the seminar, she presented her team's research, which examines why synapses and neurons become dysfunctional and die in these diseases, in order to develop effective therapeutic strategies. She also described her journey as a woman in the field of neuroscience and emphasised the importance of mentors. The researcher is herself a mentor within the American Association of Women and Science and has supervised more than 30 doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows.

Results of the 2022 gender equality survey

Consult the full results of the 2022 survey

  • RESET: gender equality in scientific and academic policies

    Led by a consortium of European universities, the RESET (Redesigning Equality and Scientific Excellence Together) project aims to place gender equality and diversity at the heart of scientific and academic policy-making.