in science

To celebrate national women in science day we would like to inspire you. Here are three stories from women at the master Water technology and Wetsus – follow their drives, philosophies and life lessons.

Chelsea Niezen, Student Msc Water Technology

“I have always had great interest in physics and chemistry, and the factual truth that can be found in those fields. The master’s degree in water technology sparked my interest because I worked on drinking water and water purification during various internships. It quickly became clear that its topics are recurring in various sectors. This provides opportunities and perspectives for the future.

I find it very wonderful to see that this year the Msc Water Technology attracts a high percentage of women. As a woman in the world of science, it is not a given that the male:female ratio is equal. In my sector as a chemical technologist, there is a majority of men, which means that as a woman you have be able to stand up for yourself. This also comes with challenges and developments from which you can learn in a positive sense.

If I’m honest I haven’t had a role model or an example of a female role model. Female scientists are sometimes mentioned, but don’t forget that many are also not mentioned. I hope that in the future more women will be reminded by their wonderful discoveries – still to come.”

Chelsea Niezen, Student Msc Water Technology

Widya Prihesti Iswarani, PhD researcher at Wetsus

“Since I started studying environmental engineering, I have been passionate about transforming ‘waste’ into something valuable and increasing awareness among those around me to stop seeing ‘waste’ as just ‘waste’. That is why I do research about resource recovery from wastewater. My goal is to improve the sustainability and circularity of wastewater treatment by extracting valuable things from ‘waste’.

Sometimes, I find it challenging being a woman in science or pursuing a PhD in general due to the prejudice or misconceptions that (still) exist. For example, I feel some people still think that women in science cannot balance family life and successful careers, that women are too “soft” or emotional to pursue a career in science, and other gender-related stereotypes.

Nonetheless, I firmly believe that women can make significant contributions to science while also being loving, caring, and nurturing towards themselves, their families, and those around them.”

Widya Prihesti Iswarani, PhD researcher at Wetsus

Valentina Sechi, Theme coordinator Soil at Wetsus, Programme Director Master Water Technology

“I remember when I was a kid, I was already concerned about nature. Why do we need to destroy and disregard it? I wanted to do something about it. Of course, things were much more complicated than I thought at the time. Still, these thoughts, combined with my curiosity to understand how the world works, led me to study ecology and eventually become a scientist.

During my studies, I never thought of myself as just a woman, but more as an individual who can (and hopes to) make a difference. Naively enough, I was not that concerned about gender equality and discrimination. I thought, in this century, in this part of the world, if I were good and believed in myself, it did not matter which gender I belonged to: I would make it.

Only later in life, gradually, by reading about gender equality, I started to see the world and my own experiences through a different lens. The jokes you sometimes hear, the tone people use, the expectations you have about yourself and those implicitly imposed by society: I realized how all these little things are often quite different from what men experience in similar situations.

Since then, every time I get in a difficult position or after receiving a comment that made me doubt myself, I ask, ‘What if I were a man?’ These kinds of questions often help me find the strength to remind myself that it is not me who needs to adapt; it is the world that needs to change. I want a world where women are free to be who they want to be without feeling judged and without being trapped under a ‘glass ceiling’.

Women is 50% of the human kind, if we are not represented in science and in all fields, the whole humanity miss half of its own perspective and potential. I believe young women can be empowered if they become aware of their potential, if they realized that without them the world is missing its half. We could then finally move from a (white)man-shaped world to a world with a much larger and broader perspective, because being humans means something more than being a man.”


Valentina Sechi, Theme coordinator Soil at Wetsus, Programme Director Master Water Technology
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