Science and the Women of LatAm – Challenges and Change

This blog post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Science and the Women


This week, I’m enjoying productive time in Panama City for CILAC 2018: The Open Science Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean. The conference is a key regional space to convene multi-disciplinary groups together to address the world’s most pressing challenges.

During my session “Women and the 2030 Agenda,” I spoke with global leaders about strategies to achieve Goal Five (gender equality and promoting all women and girls) on the Sustainable Development Goals list.

Our conversations aimed to re-imagine what’s possible for women in Latin America, and of course I’m especially interested in what we can do to help champion women in science and technology. The good news is Latin America and Caribbean countries are much more inclusive of women in science than throughout most of the rest of the world – and they’re doing some especially exciting work. You can read about seven amazing women scientists who are driving discovery and leading change here.

But the fact is the contributions of leading women scientists from all over the world fly under the radar. Even Canada’s Donna Strickland, 2018’s Nobel Prize winning scientist in Physics, was denied a page on Wikipedia until after the Nobel announcement was made. Someone did try to set one up, but the effort was thwarted with a short rejection message: “This submission’s references do not show that the subject qualifies for a Wikipedia article.” In other words, Wiki’s moderators deemed that Dr. Strickland just wasn’t well cited or well known enough. The challenge is even greater for women in less scientifically prominent areas, and the opportunity cost is high. In a world in which increasingly complex science demands cross-border and multi-disciplinary collaboration to move forward, lack of visibility and connectivity to the global dialog around innovation and R&D inhibits scientific progress for all of us.

To shine a brighter spotlight on innovators all over the world, we launched the Johnson & Johnson Storytelling Challenge earlier this year with a focus on the stories of science in Africa. Today, I am proud to announce we’ll be expanding the Challenge to highlight the women (and men!) working on groundbreaking science in Latin America and Caribbean.

My hope is that by sharing their stories with the world, we will fuel new ideas, inspire new innovation, and spur new progress for scientific communities in Latin America and around the globe.

Winners will have their story published in the Johnson & Johnson Innovation “Champions of Science” compendium and receive a cash prize. Click here to learn more - or submit your story.

I hope you will join me in spreading the word and celebrating the incredible achievements of scientists from unexpected parts of the world. We look forward to announcing the winners – and sharing all the stories of Latin American science - soon!

#ChampionsOfScience #CILAC2018