Vall d’Hebron completes the “Pioneers” mural with the figure of a girl to encourage scientific careers among women

As part of this campaign, several professionals from the Campus have become role models to explain their stories on social media.

10/02/2023

A year ago, also coinciding with the International Day of Women and Children in Science, Vall d’Hebron unveiled the Pioneers mural, a homage to nine women who have contributed to the progress of health sciences, from Ancient Greece to the modern day. The mural, measuring almost 40 metres and with a surface area of 160 square metres, was completed this year with the figure of a girl representing future generations, looking in admiration at the female scientists who forged the path for her dreams. This year’s action was once again supported by biotech pharmaceutical company Amgen and artist Mateo Lara, known as Ma’La.

To commemorate the International Day of Women and Children in Science, on 11 February, the Vall d’Hebron Campus joined the international campaign “This Little Girl Is Me”, started by the Inspiring Girls organisation, which aims to use social media to raise the visibility of leading women in different fields of life, to promote them as role models for future generations.

In the case of Vall d’Hebron, in this campaign we aim to encourage careers for women in science, while empowering female scientists in a professional field where such role models are clearly lacking.

Dr Albert Salazar, manager of Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, reiterated that, “despite the progress in recent years, it is evident that things are more difficult for girls and women.” “We have to be alert because women’s rights are the first to be lost when human rights come under attack,” he warned.

On a similar note, Dr Begoña Benito, director of Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), commented that, “the mural is a token of recognition for women who have dedicated their lives to science throughout history,” but she reiterated, “we don’t have to look too far when seeking role models, because they are here with us and are highly worthy.” Finally, she hoped that, “the day will soon come in which ceremonies such as this, besides paying homage to history, will no longer be necessary because society will have accepted women’s participation in science with the complete normality it deserves.”

For her part, Dr Mar Tintoré, a neurologist at Vall d’Hebron, principal researcher with the Clinical Neuroimmunology Research Group at the VHIR and healthcare coordinator of the Multiple Sclerosis Centre of Catalonia, stressed that there was still much work to be done. “Talent is universal, but this is not yet true of opportunities,” she stated.

“To all girls who have doubts, I want to convey to them the passion, hope, curiosity and satisfaction we experience with our work. The path is not an easy one, but we must persist,” was the message of Enriqueta Felip, section head at the Medical Oncology Department at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital and head of the Thoracic Tumors and Head and Neck Cancer Group at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO).

Finally Fina Lladós, CEO of Amgen Iberia stated that, “It is important to raise the visibility of the work and success of women who have forged the path, because we have to combat the false stereotypes and prejudices that discourage girls from studying STEM degrees.” She further added that, “we must encourage and continue working to promote scientific careers among girls and Amgen will not stop striving to do so.”

Social media campaign: #ThisLittleGirlIsMe and #Pioneres

Throughout the week and the coming days, our professionals will be taking to the social media, using the hashtags #ThisLittleGirlIsMe and #Pioneres, to share photos of when they were children along with text messages or videos in which they answer questions on whether they ever imagined themselves working in research, who their role models were and what message they would send to their younger selves.

Some of these messages that our professionals would have liked to have heard as children or would give as advice to future generations accompany the figure of the girl admiring the Pioneers mural.

The campaign does not just involve researchers, but also supports staff, showing the diversity of research today and the wide range of opportunities it offers.
The international #ThisLittleGirlIsMe hashtag has received over 20 million views and involves thousands of participants worldwide. The messages from Vall d’Hebron professionals can be seen on social media with the hashtags #ThisLittleGirlIsMe and #Pioneres.

Vall d’Hebron, a mostly female campus

Vall d’Hebron is an institution committed to gender equality in all its areas of activity, which is why it strengthens internal female leadership and parity in decision-making bodies.

Furthermore, the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) and the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) all have over 70% female staff.

The VHIR is directed by Dr Begoña Benito, one of the few women who heads research centres in Spain. At the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, 62% of managers are women, while at the VHIO, almost 60% of principal researchers are women, as are half the research groups.

About Amgen

Once again, biotech company Amgen has demonstrated its commitment to promoting scientific careers for women, collaborating in the extension to the “Pioneers” mural. Founded in California in 1980, it is one of the largest independent biotech pharmaceutical companies in the world. Operating in 100 countries, its scientists work to discover, develop and produce innovative therapies for severe or rare diseases with uncovered medical needs.

Pintura Mural Barcelona, decorating walls worldwide

The Pintura Mural Barcelona company takes on commissions for mural paintings, and has worked in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. At the head of the project is Mateo Lara, aka “Ma’La” (Barcelona, 1977), an independent multidisciplinary artist and mural painter with 25 years of training and experience in industrial and graphic design, digital animation, multimedia design and the plastic arts. His murals are characterised by an extraordinary expressive quality and realism.

The campaign does not just involve researchers, but also supports staff, showing the diversity of research today and the wide range of opportunities it offers.

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