Scientists against the glass ceiling | Honoring them and returning them to the status they deserve

Within the framework of the Day of Women and Girls in Science, which is celebrated on February 11 every year, teachers from the fields of computer science, physics and mathematics at the United Nations University participated in the Sunset Science Course organized by the Municipal Astronomical Complex. “When Maths, Physics and Computing Come Together to Navigate Space” was the theme of the game and story proposal about the crucial role women played in the development of space travel. The meeting was chaired by the Women and Science team from the Faculty of Exact Sciences, Engineering and Surveying, led by Mariela Cirelli.

On this occasion, they shared the professional and personal experiences of scientists who made valuable contributions but also had to overcome many barriers and which have become inspiring today. They said: “Knowing the pioneers in various specializations and preserving their names is necessary to highlight and honor them and return them to the place they deserve in our history.”

Teachers expressed that “no one can be what he does not imagine” and that is why they promote comprehensive science communication procedures. They are trying to break stereotypes of the image of the scientist as a man wearing an apron and a test tube working alone in his laboratory. “On the contrary, it is a collective effort made up of men and women who collectively build knowledge,” they stressed.

It should be noted that in our country, six out of ten researchers are women but they are particularly dedicated to social and humanitarian fields, while in exact sciences, engineering and technology, female participation is low. On the other hand, senior positions are mostly held by men, creating a “glass ceiling.”

Pioneers

Among the Argentine scientists, the mathematician stood out Rebecca Cherib de Gober, a computer science pioneer, and co-creator with Manuel Sadoski of UBA's Calculus Institute. In 1957, they launched “Clementina”, the first computer for scientific research in Latin America, a huge array of modules containing more than five thousand valves. This has been used in population censuses, YPF fuel distribution estimates, cosmic ray data analysis, and econometric models, among other applications. Rebecca founded the first company focused on software development and scientific computer technology, and that was her first internship in computer science. He resigned from his position at the University of Buenos Aires after the violent events of the Long Night of Sticks and was forced to go into exile during the dictatorship in 1976. When he returned to the country, he participated in the teams that supported the candidacy. Raúl Alfonsín who, upon assuming the presidency, strengthened the Secretariat of Science and Technology, which included the Undersecretary for Informatics, whose goal was to promote the development of this discipline in the country. He also directed the Higher School of Informatics of Latin America, one of the most important landmarks in computing that provided excellent training and which had to close in the 1990s due to the cessation of government funding. He continued to work in public policy until he was 80 years old and died in 2020.

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Another story that was chosen was: Miriani Pastoriza She was born in Santiago del Estero in 1939. On summer nights, her mother would place the beds on the porch of the house because of the heat and she felt as if she could touch the sky. This sparked his curiosity about the stars, so he memorized their names and dreamed of studying them. She trained at the recently created Institute of Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics at the University of Cordoba and was the first woman to graduate from that university and in this specialty, overcoming all difficulties and prejudices. She was also the second woman in the country to earn a doctorate in astronomy. Together with his thesis director, José Luis Sircech, he demonstrated that galactic centers were “stellar furnaces,” where new suns were constantly being born. This discovery was so important that it represented a before-and-after stage in extragalactic astronomy to the point that this type of galaxy came to be called Sérsic-Pastoriza. During the dictatorship, he was banned from working at any university in the country. He returned to Santiago del Estero where he gave private lessons to engineering students and in 1978 he went into exile in Porto Alegre, Brazil. She was invited by the then director of the Institute of Physics at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul to lead a research group in astrophysics and she no longer lives in Argentina. Over time, Miriani became a reference in training new generations of astronomers in Brazil and throughout the continent. Only in 2018 did he receive an honorary doctorate from UNC where he completed his undergraduate and graduate studies.

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UNR professors also rescued the story of a brilliant astronomy student from university of la plata, Ana Teresa Diego. At the age of twenty-one, she was kidnapped by the dictatorship and disappeared after she left school. One of her cellmates said during their abduction that Anna, using her knowledge of mathematics and physics, analyzed the angles of the sun's reflection on the wall and was able to deduce the time. In 2011, the International Astronomical Union named the asteroid 11441, which is located between Mars and Jupiter, the name Anadiego.

Last of Scientists were named anna cuomo, Electronic engineer born in La Pampa and trained at the National University of La Plata. He worked at INVAP, a company that develops technological projects in various fields of the nuclear, space and communications industries. There he joined a team with a great mission: to build a satellite that would provide communications, data transmission and digital television services, allowing remote Argentine cities to communicate with each other and with the rest of the world. Anna has been a leader in the development of the ARSAT 1, 2 and 3 satellites, both in manufacturing, testing and operation. ARSAT 1 is the first Argentine geostationary communications satellite launched in 2014, and in this way our country has become one of the eight countries in the world developing its own satellites. The local researchers expressed “a very important project that allows us to enjoy independence in terms of data, monitoring and analysis and to be a reference in the Southern Cone.”

finally They highlighted a doctor in physics Gabriella Gonzalez He studied at the Faculty of Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics at the National University of Cordoba and obtained his doctorate in 1995 from Syracuse University in New York. From MIT he worked at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). This observatory has devoted itself for decades, in cooperation with more than a thousand researchers distributed in twenty countries, to finding experimental evidence of the existence of gravitational waves. They achieved this in 2015, exactly one hundred years after Einstein's prediction. Gabriela worked on this project alongside Thorne and Weiss, two astrophysicists who won the Nobel Prize in Physics. In almost all of her talks, she emphasized the importance of making female role models visible in physics, to demystify the stereotype of the crazy old white scientist.

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