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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Cross-disciplinary projects > Women and science: Engendering European research culture > Rosa Nomen
Graphic element Rosa Nomen: Understanding, acceptance and change
    08-11-2001
 
Dr. Rosa Nomen

Dr. Rosa Nomen is head of the Chemical Engineering Department at the Institut Quimic de Sarria (IQS), part of Ramon Llul University in Barcelona (URL). An innovative scientist and a recognised expert in industrial safety and hazard assessment, she is also a wife and mother who has witnessed first-hand the profound societal changes allowing women to take leading roles in science and industrial research.

"Life in science and industry requires a lot of dedication and it isn't always easy to combine that with the responsibilities of home and family," says Nomen. "We should not be afraid to acknowledge that there are and have been special difficulties for women. For many generations, women have been prevented from working in responsible positions outside of the home, and this continues to be the case in many societies around the world. Being able to see people as individuals, just as they are, is a simple yet difficult goal to attain."
Social evolution
 

"Our society as a whole needs to change," says Nomen. "I think, to some extent, that it already has. Openness and acceptance of the other is a big part of that. Of course I've experienced discrimination during my academic and professional life, but I've been blessed with a good amount of understanding and respect from my male colleagues and partners, many of whom have supported and encouraged me. Some could even be said to have taken risks, engaging myself and other women when it might have been safer to go with men. There is no doubt that we are all different, but my guiding principle has always been to work as hard as possible, making use of my own particular strengths, the things that make me different, not trying to eliminate them."

Nomen is no stranger to hard work. In 1983 she, along with her husband, created a research group aimed at developing high-output and low-consumption, low environmental impact production methodologies. In 1992, they were called upon by the Catalan government to evaluate safety studies carried out by Catalonian industries according to Seveso directives.

More recently, Nomen has been the co-ordinator for the HARSNET project under the EC's Brite-Euram Programme. HARSNET (Thematic network on hazard assessment of highly reactive systems) provides a wide-ranging forum within which universities, research centres and industries can work together to improve the dissemination of the fundamental knowledge needed for hazard assessment of reactive systems. "Our project includes 26 partners from 11 European countries, with an additional 10 self-funded partners," says Nomen. "We have all worked very hard and I am greatly satisfied with the results to date. One of our aims is to allow access by the general public to our results through two websites (www.harsnet.de and harsnet.iqs.url.es), the first of which is already operating."

 
Moving in the right direction
 

"It is difficult to explain the underrepresentation of women in the sciences," says Nomen. "Women are still relatively new to scientific and technological studies, but we are now seeing equal numbers of men and women in our classes at IQS, and that is encouraging. The imposition of quotas, however, which we see more and more in European countries, is, in my opinion, a questionable development. Yes, women must be present in strategic positions throughout our society, but not because we represent a certain percentage of the population. We have real abilities and competences as individuals and these are the things which should be valued."

"At the same time," she continues, "we can introduce measures which even the playing field, helping women who take leading roles both in the professional world and within their own families, like providing more accessible child care services for working women and rethinking things like school hours for children."

Starting in January 2001, Nomen will serve as executive vice president of the European Federation of Chemical Engineers . As a highly placed and active member of this and other prestigious groups, including the International Council for Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry and the German Society of Chemical Engineers , Nomen's influence is sure to be felt for a long time to come. All the better as we move towards the European Research Area , where each individual, man, woman and young person, will be called upon to contribute according to his or her own particular talents.

Contact
ROSA NOMEN
Institut Quimic de Sarria
Ramon Llul University
43 Avenir
E-08021 Barcelona
Tel: +34 93 20. 8900
Email: rnome@iqs.edu

 
Social evolution
Moving in the right direction
     

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