Cover Story: Careers with Obstacles - Women in Academia

We Don‘t Want to Be Like Men

Alicia Ponte-Sucre, Parasitologist, Venezuela

Although I come from a very “macho” society, I can’t say that I have felt disadvantages during my academic career. Also, I have never received funding that specifically targeted female academics. I would have felt very bad about that. I want funding for the quality of what I do and not because of my gender. To my knowledge there are not initiatives in Venezuela to promote equal opportunities in research for women and men.

I have the feeling that women in Venezuela compete less with men than the women in Germany. In general, we are not willing to be like them. In general, we don’t mind about not getting into higher positions in academia if this would harm our families, and we don’t feel sorry for ourselves if we don’t.

Frequently we have our families closer to us than here in Germany, and certainly the grandparents, brothers and sisters give a lot of support in family situations. I believe young women should not follow the way males do things just because they want to compete with them; women and men are different and have different ways to approach questions; both are valid and can be excellent. My message to some of my male colleagues therefore is: Do not be arrogant in the way you present yourselves, everybody can be as good as you are.

published in Humboldt Kosmos 94/2009
Alicia Ponte-Sucre  

Professor Dr. Alicia Ponte-Sucre teaches in the Medical Faculty at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Since the end of the 1990s, she has repeatedly worked as a Georg Forster Research Fellow at the University of Würzburg and at the Medical Mission Institute, also in Würzburg.