CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day


The annual event is dedicated to CEPLAS female early career researchers and offers a program that aims at supporting their career advancement.

On February 15th,  CEPLAS Equal Opportunity and Diversity Office hosted the CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day at the O.A.S.E in Düsseldorf. Despite the unexpected Rheinbahn strikes on that day, we were delighted to see a good turnout from our members from Cologne and Düsseldorf, who joined us for what turned out to be an interesting and enriching afternoon.

This year's event focused on strengthening the dialogue within CEPLAS and creating a supportive environment for mutual learning between established women scientists and early career researchers. The afternoon started with engaging talks from three of our female professors: Ilka Axmann (HHU), Ute Höcker (UoC), Anna Matuszyńska (RTW-Aachen), and a special guest, retired Professor Sieglinde Ott (HHU). Each shared their journey to becoming a professor, discussing the particular challenges they overcame and the successes they celebrated along the way. This was followed by an open question and answer session in an informal atmosphere complemented by finger foods and drinks.

What made the panel exceptionally interesting was that it represented four distinct generations of female scientists. Each panelist had navigated through academia during different periods, thereby experiencing varying degrees of inclusivity from the academic system. Retired Professor Ott’s reflections, in particular, made it clear to the audience that significant progress has been made in gender equality over the decades, especially considering the strong barriers encountered by women researchers in the 1990s. The following open discussion with our keynote speakers further highlighted that, while significant progress has been made, there is still a need for more structural improvements, particularly regarding family-friendly conditions and a family-friendly culture within academia.

In addition to discussing the general situation of women scientists in academia, early career researchers were presented with many tips and key steps to keep in mind when becoming and establishing themselves as independent researchers.

A big thank you goes out to our speakers and everyone who joined us, making it such a thought-provoking and inspiring afternoon. We hope to continue the conversation, keep learning, and create a supportive environment for women in science.