Being a female scientist: marine biogeochemist Johanna Stadmark

Dr. Johanna Stadmark is a researcher at the Department of Geology at the Lund University (LU) and works mainly in projects related to eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. She is in the steering group of WINGS (Women in Great Sciences) since 2009 and an active member of the equality boards at the Faculty of Science at LU.

Dr. Johanna Stadmark. Photo: Evelyn Renz-Kiefel

What are the main things you enjoy about being a marine scientist?

I like the subject in a broader sense. In my private life I am a diver and the things affecting the seas interest me.

 Did you have any role models that led you to this career? How did they influence you?

No specific role model that I can identify. I have had several really good teachers and colleagues that have inspired me to take on this path.

What are your main professional achievements? Any/what obstacles?

I consider my main professional achievements when I manage to convey current research to a broader audience in newspapers, on radio or on TV. I want to raise the awareness about ongoing processes in the sea and the pros and cons of different mitigation efforts.

 Have you ever had any difficulties in your career due to your gender? If yes, how did you handle them?

I felt a bit unseen during my PhD studies and it was not until the end that I understood that it was part of something bigger. There were almost no senior women at my department and the senior staff did not invite me to their networks in the same way as they invited the (male) PhD students. I did not handle this at the time since I was not aware of the problem… After my PhD I have more and more come to the conclusion that I do not want a career if the system I am working in does not acknowledge my competence and that gives me confidence to point at some of the problems and hopefully improve the situation.

 What actions are foreseen to reduce gender inequalities in your institution?

There is ongoing work on gender mainstreaming in Sweden and there are local initiatives at Lund University to increase the number of women at more senior positions. We have rather active gender quality groups and the network WINGS (www.wings.lu.se).

 What is the most effective way for you to maintain balance of your professional and personal life?

To value my life outside work. Set automatic replies on email and don’t check emails during vacation.

 What advice would you give any women considering science as a career path?

To focus on the meriting parts of work and early on set the stage within the department, i.e raise the questions on how aware the staff within the department is, discuss with colleagues, expect the same treatment as (male) colleagues.

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