Researcher calls for an increase in advocacy to reach gender equality

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Sun Mar 7 2021

Author: Guest contributor

To celebrate International Women's Day and Women's History Month more broadly, the SN Women Network asked several female scientists to share what inspires them, what challenges they faced and still face, what advice they have for women and girls interested in science, and more. We’re honored to feature their inspiring stories. Happy Women’s History Month!

Here we interview Dr. Eucharia Oluchi Nwaichi.

What are some obstacles/pushback that you’ve faced in your career as a scientist and/or in your efforts in the women in STEM movement?

Some professional colleagues have shoved aside some of my position papers because they come from a ‘women’. We, as women scientists, often get a ‘second-citizen role’ in science events, activities, and jobs. When people push for a quota for a woman among invited speakers for example, I feel terrible as it is a conscious bias. In joint grant application preparation, many investigators think women should not be the Principal Investigators, citing society-assigned roles to women to manage welfare issues and not be a chief planner. Non-flexible work schedules and non-gender-friendly management policies have also not helped the female scientist.

Why did you become a scientist?
Eucharia Nwaichi

I was a curious child of educated parents who thought I was a scientist in the making. They sent me to a specialised Science High School and my interest grew stronger and here I am today.

Who are some mentors that you’ve had in your life?

Emeritus Professor Anosike (of blessed memory) and Prof. Florence Nduka., both from University of Port Harcourt.

What would you tell a young woman who is considering STEM as a career path?

Follow your dream. Your passion will sustain you through the thick and thin of science and do not forget to deliberately have mentors and champions. These individuals will always fan your flame into fire.

What changes do you feel are necessary in society to move towards lasting change and true equality amongst men and women?

Increase the intensity of advocacy for gender equality in our society. Develop the confidence of mid-career and advanced women scientists to be mentors, as younger female scientists are more motivated when accomplished women scientists serve as mentors, speakers, and leaders in their field.

What are some areas of research where women could stand to be celebrated more overtly?

Evidence has shown that women have the capacity to excel in any field of research provided they have adequate training, enabling environment, and interest.

What’s one area of your life (whether work or personal) that you're most proud of? And where do you feel you’ve made the greatest impact?

I have a peaceful home and I am known in my field of phytoremediation and in community engagement.

Explore Springer Nature's SDG5 hub dedicated to gender equality

About Dr. Eucharia Oluchi Nwaichi

Dr. Eucharia Oluchi Nwaichi, a well-travelled Environmental Biochemist at the University of Port Harcourt, runs an Environmental Consultancy with relevant stakeholders. Besides her core courses, she teaches HSE, Occupational Health and Hygiene, and Science communication at different Centres of Excellence locally in Nigeria and internationally, and has worked in diverse industries to share her rich industry experience in her teaching model. She has generated diverse and compelling evidences around technologies for remediation of impacted environments. Eucharia is poised with influencing policies with her science and works to increase space for women in science. 

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She is the President of Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) University of Port Harcourt Branch and has delivered several developmental projects for colleagues and students and written and reviewed several technical reports. She has received many awards and honours, including 2019 Fellow of Next Einstein’s Forum, first cohort Affiliate of the African Academy of Science, 2015 Fellow of Commonwealth, 2015 University of Port Harcourt Merit Awardee for numerous contributions, 2013 UNESCO L’Oreal International Fellow, amongst others. Eucharia has extensive experience at science outreach and evidence in a multidisciplinary field approach and has worked with host communities, farmers, and stakeholders to develop a phytoremediation model in parched environments and to educate on safe agriculture. She was recognized by Leadership Magazine as ‘One of Nigeria's shining lights in the Sciences’ in November 2017 and by Silverbird TV as one of 16 prominent women in Science and Research in February 2018.


Author: Guest contributor

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