The scientist portable fireplace machine could be considered the first patent registered in the name of a woman in Spain. The beneficiary was Francisca Jaquinet, a Frenchwoman based in Madrid who attributed the invention to her late husband to obtain a privilege in 1826 that allowed the exclusive commercialization during five years of a rudimentary domestic stove able to “be placed anywhere”. Whether it was a posthumous tribute or a way of evading the ironclad moral controversy of the time, the history of Spanish women scientists has evolved in parallel to the embracing of a taboo whose heritage presents new challenges today.
Spain has 119 researchers among the most influential in the world, according to the analysis carried out annually by Clarivate Analytics, based on the number of citations referenced during the last decade. Of them, only 17 are women. The fundamental requirement to enter the registry is that the number of attributions exceeds 1% in one of the 21 fields of study taken in consideration, although the fifth edition of the analysis includes a new category with 2,000 authors of great impact in several branches of science but without the sufficient number of citations in a specific field.
The latter group includes authorities such as Dolores Corella, a professor at the Universitat de València, a pioneer in the development of nanosensors with applications in food technology and medicine; the director of the Granada Cancer Registry, María José Sánchez Pérez; or the head of Hepatology and Internal Medicine at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, María Buti. Enriqueta Felip works at the same medical center, at the head of the Thoracic Medical Oncology Service.
In the early stage of research, more than half are women, but the percentage falls to 25% among those who complete the doctoral thesis
The contribution of women to science finds another slab in the media. Barely a quarter of the researchers cited in the press are women, according to a study on the visibility of Spanish women scientists prepared by the Advanced Studies Group of Communication (GEAC) of the Rey Juan Carlos University and published by the Antoni Esteve Foundation. In fact, the cited male scientific sources triple the number of female ones. Not in vain, the editors tend to cite women scientists more frequently, to the point that 34% of the scientific sources of their texts are female, in contrast to 20% of those consulted by the editors.
Based on the fact that women represent 39% of the staff of the national R & D system, their participation in positions of responsibility continues to be minority: in the academic sphere, the female gender only occupies 21% of the chairs, 10% of the positions of rector and 21% of the managerial positions of the research institutions; while in public research organizations, it only accounts for 25% of the highest category.