Women in Science: A Student Workshop at a University in Mexico

Daniela C. González-Cruz1, Sofía Jezzini-Martínez2, Paloma C. Leyva-Camacho1, Ilse Janeth De la Rosa-Rodríguez3, Andrea Flores-Rodríguez4, Karina Raygoza-Cortez4, Mariana García-Leal4

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/ijms.2023.1435

Volume 11, Number 1: 80-84
Received 10 03 2022; Rev-request 09 04 2022; Rev-request 18 08 2022; Rev-request 08 11 2022; Rev-recd 26 06 2022; Rev-recd 09 10 2022; Accepted 25 11 2022


Women have participated in science since the earliest of times. However, their valuable contributions are not as widely acknowledged throughout our history and women still face several barriers throughout their professional career. We developed and hosted a half-day Women in Science seminar organized by students, for students. The main goal was to promote ways to involve more women in research activities and to strengthen the scientific community within our medical school. The workshop consisted of three main sections, where we shared relevant statistics, resources, and strategies among a community of students interested in science. At the end of the workshop, participants shared their insights proving the necessity and utility of such events to strengthen the development of science as an inclusive field.

Keywords: Gender; Bias; Women; Science; Medicine; STEM (Source: MeSH-NLM).

The Experience

Gender bias is an “unfair difference in the way men and women are treated.”1 This phenomenon has many different forms and extends to many work environments, including the scientific world.24 Gender bias affects women in hiring decisions, perceptions of the quality of their work, research publications, peer-review processes, citation patterns, and leadership positions, among others.59 Barriers such as gender wage gaps, sexual harassment, and maternity and paternity policies often prevent women from advancing in their professional careers, particularly in science.1014 Studies have shown that gender bias begins early in education and has deleterious effects throughout many aspects of academia.15 It affects grading, mentoring, and letters of recommendation, which could certainly affect the progress of a woman in science.16, 17

Addressing this issue is key to pursuing gender equality in science, a problem that women have fought especially hard to overcome. Thus, we designed, developed, and hosted a half-day research-focused workshop to highlight the gender gaps in science and to provide information on research opportunities available for medical and clinical chemistry students. This workshop aimed to achieve the following goals:

Implementation of The Workshop

The workshop was a hybrid event where students were invited to attend in person or online. Although the invitation was open to all students, each of the 50 participants identified themselves as women. The workshop was divided into the following three phases:

Phase One: History of Women in Science

The first speaker was a fifth-year medical student from our university with previous research experience. Her session started with an implicit association exercise to assess unconscious bias in the audience. She continued with a talk titled “Women in Medical Sciences Throughout Time.” This talk presented women who have made essential contributions in the field of medical sciences. It included notable individuals such as Agnodice, an important figure of Ancient Greece18 and the first woman to be acknowledged as a gynecologist; Doctor Alice Hamilton, the first woman to become a faculty member of Harvard University;19 and Nobel Prize winners Doctors Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer Doudna, and Rita Levi-Montalcini among other scientists and doctors.20 The purpose of this introduction was to show how women have been actively participating in medicine from ancient times to the present and how their contributions have played a great role in global and human development.

Phase Two: Current State of Affairs

The second speaker was a first-year clinical chemistry student from our institution with previous research experience. The speaker focused on the National System of Researchers or SNI, a government-led program established in Mexico, in which scientific researchers across the country subscribe to receive funding for their projects and apply for academic positions. According to the data provided by SNI, only 37.2% of Ph.D. researchers are women.21 Thereafter, the speaker described some of the structural barriers that could explain the disparity between men and women in professional settings, such as the theory of the “glass ceiling and the sticky floor,” which addresses the challenges women face for being promoted in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers, as well as the increasing difficulty in securing a grant for research.2225 At the end of this presentation, we conducted an activity in which the audience was encouraged to write down thoughts and ideas on how to improve women’s situation in science in the present and near future (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Audience Participation Proposing Ways to Address Gender Bias at the University.

Phase Three: Leadership and Empowerment Seminar

The third speaker was a fourth-year medical student from our institution with previous research experience in the field of Psychiatry. The talk focused on empowering and instilling confidence in leaders, promoting empathetic and respectful communication, and suggesting ways to establish boundaries in the workplace. We continued with a pre-recorded interview with Sonia Hernández-Díaz, MD, PhD, a professor at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. Her main area of research is Pharmacoepidemiology of Women’s Health. She spoke about the difficulties she faced in academia and shared insights on how she found her passion. We also displayed a video of women researchers around the world giving advice to inspire young students who are interested in research.

We ended the workshop with a question-and-answer panel in which the participants and the presenters could share their doubts and experiences. Participants shared ideas and opinions, and advice based on personal experiences and on how they found research opportunities within our university (Figure 2). Some of the attendees were already involved in research activities, therefore their input was of great importance to younger students who did not know where to begin.

Figure 2.

Round Table.

Recommendations and Lessons Learned

This workshop accomplished its objective of motivating women to pursue and embrace science as a career. The participants were asked about their opinions and feelings regarding the workshop, they described it as an inspiring, deep, and informative experience. Here we propose specific actions so as to continue to address gender issues in science:

Figure 3.

The Seminar.


Is it hard to be a researcher? Undoubtedly yes. Should we try despite the difficulties we are supposed to overcome? Definitely. This workshop allowed us to reflect on that. Although we have made a lot of progress over the past few years, we still have a long way to go to reduce and eventually close the gender gap in science. The impact of the event on the women of our institution proves the efficacy and the need for such interventions to enhance the development of women in science.

Participant Experiences and Perspectives

“This workshop was a genuine experience. It was a space created by women for other women, which made me reflect upon the value and importance of us women helping each other, highlighting our skills, and reminding us that instead of competing, we can be allies. Without a doubt, I could say that more than one of us went home wishing to become a woman in science.”

Claudia Ramírez Mata, first-year clinical chemistry student.

“Going to the workshop was enriching. I felt comfortable and safe, it was a very empowering environment. I loved that the speakers encouraged us to participate and even share our own experiences. It made me realize that there are many paths to follow in the world of science. They gave us advice to start doing research, and most importantly, they made us feel connected with other women as there is still work to do to achieve equality and lay a foundation for future events.”

Lourdes Gil Flores, fourth-year medical student.

“‘Women in science’ was a delightful event, full of emotions, knowledge, and women empowerment. At the beginning, it was quite frightening to listen to data about discrimination against women and gender inequality in professional life. But as the event went on, there were suggestions of what we can do to be part of the change, sharing of testimonies, and support from the whole auditorium. By the end of the event, I was sure that our generation can make a change, that there are people willing to help and redirect to the correct areas to seek change, and that with small actions we can start to eliminate the injustices that exist nowadays. Honestly, it was an event that I wish everyone, not just women, would attend.”

Daniela Ortega Mata, sixth-year medical student.

Summary – Accelerating Translation

Mujeres y Ciencia: El Horizonte en Investigación

Las mujeres han participado en la ciencia desde el inicio de los tiempos. Sin embargo, sus logros no son tan vastamente reconocidos dentro de la historia. Actualmente, las mujeres enfrentan barreras asociadas al género cuando se trata de avanzar en su carrera profesional. Debido a esto, decidimos crear un espacio dirigido a estudiantes para hablar de la historia de la mujer en la ciencia y difundir estrategias para fortalecer la comunidad de mujeres en investigación. Durante este taller se compartieron estadísticas, experiencias personales y consejos sobre la trayectoria de distintas mujeres que se desarrollan en campos científicos alrededor del mundo. Al finalizar el taller, la retroalimentación de las participantes puso en evidencia la utilidad y necesidad de este tipo de espacios para motivar y enriquecer la comunidad científica de mujeres.


We thank Dr. Sonia Hernández-Diaz MD (Harvard School of Public Health) for her time and counseling sharing her experience on research and Medicine. We are grateful with the scientists Dr. Suetonia Palmer MD (University of Otago); Marleen Kunneman MD (Mayo Clinic); Nataly R. Espinoza-Suárez MD (Laval University); Angela M. Leung MD (University of California, Los Angeles); Dr. Marion Brunck (University of Queensland); Dr. Eva M. Trujillo-Chi Vacuán MD (Comenzar de Nuevo A.C.); Rosella Soriano-González MSc (Comenzar de Nuevo A.C.); Narjust Duma MD (Harvard Medical School); Andrea García MD (Mayo Clinic); Spyridoula Maraka MD (Arkansas University); Dr. Monica Siqueiros MD (Stanford University); and Helen O’Connell MD (University of Melbourne) for providing advice and words of encouragement. We wish to thank José Gerardo González-González MD, PhD for his support in creating and promoting this event. We also thank Miguel Zambrano-Lucio for proofreading our manuscript. Finally, we sincerely thank all our participants for joining this seminar and for their disposition to make a change in science.

Conflict of Interest Statement & Funding

The Authors have no funding, financial relationships or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, D.C.G.C., S.J.M., P.C.L.C., A.F.R., K.R.C., and M.G.L.; Methodology, D.C.G.C., S.J.M., P.C.L.C., A.F.R., K.R.C., and M.G.L.; Investigation, D.C.G.C., S.J.M., P.C.L.C., I.J.D.R., A.F.R., K.R.C., and M.G.L.; Writing – Original Draft, D.C.G.C., S.J.M., P.C.L.C., I.J.D.R., A.F.R., K.R.C., and M.G.L.; Writing – Review & Editing, D.C.G.C., S.J.M., P.C.L.C., and A.F.R.; Resources, A.F.R., K.R.C., and M.G.L.; Supervision, A.F.R., K.R.C., and M.G.L.


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Daniela C. González-Cruz, 1 Sixth-year Medical Student. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico.

Sofía Jezzini-Martínez, 2 Fifth-year Medical Student. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico.

Paloma C. Leyva-Camacho, 1 Sixth-year Medical Student. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico.

Ilse Janeth De la Rosa-Rodríguez, 3 Second-year Clinical Biochemistry Student. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico.

Andrea Flores-Rodríguez, 4 MD. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico.

Karina Raygoza-Cortez, 4 MD. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico.

Mariana García-Leal, 4 MD. Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico.

About the Author: Daniela C. González-Cruz is a sixth-year medical student of a six-year program. She is a member of KER Unit México at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León and currently participates in several research projects oriented towards Endocrinology and the quality of scientific research. Her main areas of interest are women’s health and the integration of gender perspective in Medicine.

Correspondence: Daniela C. González-Cruz. Address: Av. Dr. José Eleuterio González 235, Mitras Centro, 64460 Monterrey, N.L., Mexico. Email: dcgonzalezcruz@gmail.com

Editor: Francisco J. Bonilla-Escobar Student Editors: Johnmark Boachie & Joseph Tonge Proofreader: Laeeqa Manji Layout Editor: Ana Maria Morales Process: Peer-reviewed

Cite as González-Cruz DC, Jezzini-Martínez S, Leyva-Camacho PC, De la Rosa-Rodríguez IJ, Flores-Rodríguez A, Raygoza-Cortez K, García-Leal M. Women in Science: A Student Workshop at a University in Mexico. Int J Med Stud. 2023 Jan-Mar;11(1):80-84.

Copyright © 2023 Daniela C. González-Cruz, Sofia Jezzini-Martínez, Paloma C. Leyva-Camacho, Ilse Janeth De la Rosa-Rodríguez, Andrea Flores-Rodríguez, Karina Raygoza-Cortez, Mariana García-Leal

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

International Journal of Medical Students, VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1, March 2023