There are six Portuguese women in the list of the Top 100 Social Entrepreneurs

From the age of nine, Joana Moscoso announced after a day at school that she had made a very important decision. “I learned that bacteria exist and was fascinated! I’ve decided to become a scientist, ”he says. The novelty was not received with the greatest enthusiasm for those close to her, but Joana, now 35, retained her conviction and decided to study biology at university. After the adventure of years of research, he combined this knowledge with others he had gained along the way (we will go there); Today he is Business Manager in Portugal for Smart Separations.

Mariana Alves, 26, wasn’t that determined. Before I went to college, I was “very undecided” about the way forward. Despite “very different interests” under “literature, theater or journalism”, he finally moved to the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Coimbra, “with the utilitarian perspective of making a contribution to society and having a mission”. After a Masters degree in Copenhagen, Denmark and his thesis in Cambridge, UK, he went to Heidelberg, Germany to do a PhD, which he completes.

Joana and Mariana come from different places – the first is from Valença; the second from Coimbra – and on her academic and professional path through different countries. They are now (but not for the first time) crossing the list of the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprises by the Euclid Network, a network supported by the European Commission that honors social entrepreneurs, which will open on Monday March 8th, has been published. They are two of the Six Portuguese in this top 100 who also honor social innovators. Joana Moreira, Operations Director of the Transformers Movement, Paula Valente, Managing Director and speech and language therapist at the Instituto Português da Afasia – IPA, Helena da Silva, Managing Director of Vintage for a Cause, and Isabel Rosado, President and co-founder of Palhaços d’Opital differ the others.

For the selection of hundreds of social entrepreneurs and innovators, the Euclid Network set three criteria: “leadership position” in an organization, “work in the ecosystem for social entrepreneurship on the European continent” and “personal commitment, resilience” and leadership when through “impact “. In addition, the respected women had to be nominated by someone else.

Joana was nominated by Pedro Resende, 38, for the work that was developed by both of them on a project: Chaperone, which was created in 2018. It is the “first online platform in the world that specializes in the career development of scientists”. “We don’t have any psychologists. Chaperones measures are more preventive to help scientists not lose their mental health due to the inconvenience and dissatisfaction they often experience in their daily life and in the development of their careers, ”explains Joana. On the other hand, there are consultants who support “career development” and “navigating the labor market” and who provide “tools to combat harassment and bullying” in the workplace.

Joana Moscoso also received the MIT Under 35 title in 2007. Dr.

Before starting, recalls Pedro, a researcher at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health Care (I3s) in Porto, the two of them spent several years “interviewing various career specialists”. Everything that Chaperone was able to produce with certainty – what was achieved: “We opened with more than 25 consultants. Today we have more than 35 employees working with researchers from institutions such as Kings College. “These advisors” are available for one-to-one, personalized sessions on more than 50 career topics, such as curriculum improvement or an academic article. Today the platform reaches scientists from “all over the world”, from Sweden to Qatar. According to Joana, the focus is on “PhD students and postdocs”, but Chaperone is also “for scientists in the industry”. Registration for researchers and scientists is free. The consultants only arrive there at the invitation of the two founders of the platform.

Science is for everyone (and shouldn’t discriminate)

Before Smart Separations (and even Chaperones), Joana extended her fascination with bacteria in different regions. While studying biology at the Faculty of Science at the University of Porto, he did Erasmus in Sweden. “I loved the experience. So much so that I later found it great to do a master’s degree in microbiology in Australia, ”he recalls. Then he returned to Europe and did his PhD and PhD in the same area at Imperial College London, where he studied and researched between 2009 and 2015. But “the entrepreneurial trail” was evident and there was something to be done to satisfy the desire to go beyond the lab: In 2013, he founded Native Scientist, a nonprofit that brings together immigrant students and scientists to advance scientific literacy.

From a native scientist, he crossed paths with Mariana. In 2020, Joana founded Cartas Com Ciência, an organization founded by Mariana and Rafael Galupa, who also conducts research in Germany. The line is the same, but this project seeks to raise awareness of access to higher education for children and young people from Portuguese-speaking countries by writing letters with Portuguese-speaking researchers. Joana nominated it for the list of the Euclidean Network. “She was a mentor to us. She’s very generous because she has time to give advice in the middle of work and she still remembers calling me, ”she says between laughs. Although Mariana is dedicated to research, she is always aware of a “sense of mission” – such utilitarianism. It is for this reason that you are volunteering at Cartas Com Ciência. “The communication and scientific dissemination part gave me the personal fulfillment part. Working in a laboratory can be lonely, ”he says.

The issue of social entrepreneurship is “increasingly emerging in all strata of society,” he says. Only “in science it is not a common way out”: “In my opinion we still hear a lot in the academy that the success story consists of someone becoming a laboratory manager.” For her, Mariana sees “bank biology remains for her doctorate” and envisages “the use of science communication for social effects” in the future, a path “with potential”. Joana points out that “many scientists are currently volunteering for large projects trying to bring science closer to society,” thereby shortening distances.

Mariana is doing her PhD at EMBL in Heidelberg. DR

The price, says the founder of Chaperone, is “very important because it is necessary to recognize these entrepreneurial people”. “And this unity at European level, which gives these women and projects visibility, gives strength and courage,” he adds. Add this “symbolic” award (not a cash prize) to yet another recognition, the 2017 MIT Under 35 title. As a woman in science – and outside of it – she said she felt a “difference”: “It’s like everyone walks. There are those who want to reach the top and those who don’t. But to get to the top, the woman has to make a detour, there are obstacles. Support has to be created in order not to create discrimination, otherwise we always have a delay. “

For Mariana the award means “a lot, while someone is passionate about diversity and inclusion”. Although Portugal “is an exception to great examples of women in science” it is still “a very male dominated area”. But the work doesn’t stop there: “I don’t know how many white women or people with privileged backgrounds or contexts will be on the list. I think it’s very important to give space and pay attention to intersectionality and inclusion. “Also because, after all, there are many nuances in a world that is“ dominated by a binary vision ”in which not everyone sees themselves. And this, he concludes, “means having empathy for everyone”.

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