Celebrating women in science

Celebrating women in science

Join us in celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science! On this occasion Bioversity International and CIAT feature some of our very own women scientists working to promote and safeguard agrobiodiversity, and improve food systems. 

Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) are proud and happy to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. We at CGIAR are using the opportunity of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to feature some of our women scientists, their thoughts and their work. 

Read on to see what inspired them to pursue a career in science, and in working to promote agrobiodiversity and improve the sustainability of our food systems.

Beatrice Ekesa
Nutrition Scientist, Bioversity International

Opportunities for women in science are there, no need to put in double effort, we need to be great in what we do, appreciate that we are women and there will be no limit.~B. Ekesa

"I liked to sketch and to listen to music, so I thought I wanted to be an artist," says Beatrice, "but in high school my favourite teachers were my biology and home economics teachers. So, when applying to University, I decided to pursue nutrition."  Beatrice says she still likes listening to music and dancing, but insists she is most energized when talking about nutrition. Her work centres on agrobiodiversity, its nutritional value, people's consumption patterns and influencing factors. She looks at what happens to food items and derived products during the time between harvesting or acquisition until it is consumed. Most of her work has been in banana-based food systems of eastern Africa.

Lisset Pérez
Research Fellow, CIAT

Female scientists can be role models for younger generations. Girls should learn at an early age that there have been women who have broken preconceptions and have contributed to scientific progress. ~L. Pérez

Gaia Lochetti
Research Fellow, Bioversity International

For a long time women didn’t have the chance to work in research and scientific fields, yet they contributed so much. The female perspective is important and has to be considered. Diversity is resilience and strength. Not only in food systems, but in workplaces too. ~G. Lochetti

The focus of Gaia's work is on neglected and underutilized species and promoting their use for nutrition, climate change resilience and income generation. "I have always felt a strong connection with food, its meaning and its value. Growing up, I became more interested in the causes and effects of food and nutrition insecurity and in understanding how they can be tackled through a participatory, holistic and systemic approach." Through her work, Gaia has had the chance to travel and meet and interact with the women and men at the forefront of global food production, and who are most impacted by food insecurity and climate change. "I want the voices of these women and men to be heard", she explains, "and through inclusive agricultural and nutrition research we have the possibility of doing so". "Research can have a concrete positive impact on their life. And this is what keeps me going."

María Fernanda Álvarez
Molecular Breeder, CIAT

Science takes passion and if you want to know how things work in the world, I encourage you to pursue a career in science. ~M.F. Álvarez

Pricilla Marimo
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Gender, Bioversity International

Follow your passion, be open-minded and learn new things, explore, take initiative and challenge the status quo if you must! ~P.Marimo

"Throughout my academic and career life, I have always been drawn to do agricultural research that seeks to understand the gendered aspects and dynamics in farming systems, particularly those in an African context." Pricilla is particularly interested in exploring the risks and benefits associated with the introduction of new technologies, like improved crop varieties, and the social consequences of such introductions in the different groups in our societies. Her work is contributing to participatory and gender-sensitive protocols that are being used to collect sex-disaggregated data from farmers and other actors in the value chain. The final objective is to capture context specific dynamics to inform the banana breeding process. Pricilla is working in five different agroecological zones in Uganda and Tanzania providing recommendations taoilored to the needs of different groups in those communities. "Currently we are preparing to take the new varieties to farmers so that they plant in their own fields."

Camila Gonzalez Campo
Research Assistant, CIAT

Women are key drivers for change in sustainable agriculture, food security and rural development. Their participation either from a lab, office or field workspace, has an important role in shaping the future of the agriculture sector. ~C. Gonzalez

Camilla is working on the cassava breeding programme, developing genetic information on cassava chromosomal structure. As to what brought her here, Camilla says that "studying the dynamics of life, from a molecular and cellular level to the level of ecosystem and biosphere, motivated me to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology." She then developed a deeper interest in understanding plants and their importance for the management and maintenance of sustainable ecosystems. "I believe that it [cassava breeding programme] will contribute to cassava breeding by ensuring that the best parental lines are selected to produce superior hybrid lines to improve the crop’s productivity and environmental sustainability and hence benefit equally women and men."


Giulia Rota Nodari
Research Fellow, Bioversity International

Nature has always stimulated my curiosity and science has provided me with the tools to understand it. My job gives me every day the chance to demonstrate that women have a say in science. ~G. Rota Nodari

"Ever since I can remember, I was curious about nature, and science has provided me with the tools to understand it." Giulia's interest in sustainability and natural resource conservation motivated her to pursue her studies and professional choices. She is now working on participatory approaches for sustainable landscape management so as to include the different needs and perspectives of both women and men in decision making. "My job gives me every day the chance to demonstrate that women have a say in science."

Learn more about our focus on gender in our research.