On the occasion of the 6th International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we interview Aya Amitai-Lange and Anna Altshuler to know a little bit more about them. They are the two women that carry out the Bright project at Technion, Israel.
Both Anna and Aya work at the laboratory of Prof. Ruby Shalom-Feuerstein, at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The research of the lab is focused on the study of fundamental and translational research of skin, cornea and pluripotent stem cells. Inside Brighter project, their role is no less than to provide the cellular models, scientific knowledge about stem cell biology and collaborate on the fabrication and testing of the new engineered tissues using the biomaterial scaffold to be developed by the bio-engineering experts.
Aya and Anna are highly qualified scientists, both holding a PhD, and today, on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, they share with us some reflections about their personal experiences and the role of women in science. Aya is currently a Research Associate and Lab. Manager and Anna is a Postdoc Researcher, both working on stem cell biology in skin and cornea.
When you found out that you wanted to be a scientist?
Aya: After my military service I was searching for the most interesting and suitable profession for me and decided to study Molecular Biochemistry. I found it very exciting to understand the basics of life.
Anna: Already in high school, I was interested in Biology and curious especially stem cells.
Have you encountered any kind of barriers to go in this direction from your family, friends or school?
Aya: Yes. My family encouraged me to pursue an engineering profession, like my father and my big brothers.
Anna: No, my family supported me throughout my entire career.
At some point did you think that being a woman could be a problem in achieving your dream?
Aya: No. I didn’t feel that being a woman is a problem.
Anna: I don’t think so, but the fact is that there are more men as PI than women.
Do you think that your daily/family life has somehow a negative impact on your work due to the fact of being a woman?
Aya: Yes, since I have three young children I find it very challenging to combine my work and my family life. The last year in which my children are at home most of the time due to the pandemic breakout was especially difficult.
Anna: Yes of course, I have a small baby who needs a lot of attention so I can’t work for long hours.
Do you think that initiatives like the International Day of Women and Girls in Science are useful/necessary to make the role of women in science visible?
We both see that in the last few years there is a change in the balance between men and women in senior positions in the Technion. More and more young female scientists get the opportunity to open their own labs and are found to be very successful. Any activity that may support this important change is blessed.