We interviewed Montse Casas Cabanas, Scientific Coordinator of the Electrochemical Energy Storage area at CIC energiGUNE.

What made you decide to develop as a scientist?

The truth is that I was the first graduate in my family, so I really had no references to make my choices. But I had very strong support from my family and, in particular, from the women in my family: my mother and my grandmother who who learned to read at 60 because the civil war in Spain dropped her out of school. And I had the chance to meet a young P.I. who became my PhD supervisor, Rosa Palacin, who was also very influencing in the sense that she really gave me a taste of this battery field and the challenges that we face and how we could contribute from there.

Do you think women are underrepresented in the battery field?

Women are underrepresented in all STEM careers. Only 7% of women go into STEM careers, which is really a very very poor figure. Even as young children, we are not encouraged to go into STEM careers. And in particular, of course, not in anything related to engineering, chemistry or physics. And also, we have a lack of references; women that have made great achievements in science fields have not been given a lot of visibility and this has a very strong impact.

What do you think could be done to close such a gap?

Role models are fundamental from the very early ages. We also need, as a society, to identify all the stereotypes and fight against them. And also at the institutional level, we can give recognition and visibility to many women. Judge purely on the merit, and indeed, to have also support for women in crucial times of their careers; in particular, when it comes to motherhood, which is when their careers might also be at risk.

What do you think makes CIC energiGUNE different to have parity in all organizational positions?

I am really proud that CIC energiGUNE is one of the institutions in which there is a real parity between male and female. We have always been sensitive to that, of course, but we have never forced it. It just came naturally. We receive as many good CVs from male and from women, and we hire people independently of their gender. We train people, we support people no matter the gender. And I think it is a reflect of the equal capabilities of men and women and I hope it will be the same for many other institutions from now on.

How would you encourage young women to go for a career in the energy storage sector?

So, I would tell them that they have a chance to contribute to the decarbonization of our society with their work. Of course, it´s a team effort, but it does have an impact. We need a lot of people trained in our field at the moment. And therefore, it is a field where they will be able not only to fight against climate change, it´s a field that it´s in constant growth. You learn all the time and you meet very interesting people all the time. You can enter this field from many different disciplines: chemistry, physics, engineering, but also social sciences and economics, for example. It is a field where they will certainly find the job, which is, of course, something that is very motivating as well.

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