Mini series #WomenInScience Part 2

Dr. Parvin Zare is a chemist from Iran and has been working for our company for more than 5 years. We take a look behind the scenes with her at her story and her work at MOTOREX.

What was your motivation to become a chemist?
Education has always been very important in my family. In my home country, Iran, life was very difficult for women and there are many challenges to overcome on a daily basis. I was lucky to have an open-minded family. They understood that education is the only way you can push forward. When my sister and I were asked as children «What do you want to become in your life?» We both answered «scientists». We loved watching cartoons, but it was always men playing with the test tubes and solving any problems. Later in highschool, I developed a passion for organic chemistry.

Did you face any hurdles in the process of becoming a scientist?
It is very interesting. In Iran, the society is very male dominated, systematically pushing women back. But there are many women studying at the universities. People do not criticize you because you go to school. You rather face that challenge in any other aspects in your life when you live there – but not for studying chemistry. I remember that our class had a healthy balance between women and men. What I found a pity is that we only had one female lecturer at the chemical department. I think we have missed certain opportunities here to have certain areas of science explained from a different perspective as well. To my surprise, I also came across the same situation in Europe. I think women are still underrepresented in certain fields of science, especially in higher education executive roles.

What was the reason you left Iran?
My profession was one of the reasons I came to Europe. The other one was my dream to see the world outside of my country. I wanted to escape the social and legal restrictions of women in Iran and feel free to live my dream life. That was probably the main reason. If you want to break the vicious circle in my home country, you have to fight for your rights every day, even if you are supported by your family. Unfortunately, one encounters resistance not only from the society but also from the state.

What fascinates you about your profession and being a scientist?
For me the production line is something that hypnotizes me. I’m always fascinated by any production process – it doesn’t matter what it is, I just like seeing that they are creating something. What I especially like when working for MOTOREX is that I can follow the product path. I see the trucks leaving our company every day or I can even just leave my laboratory, to quickly run downstairs and see how the production is going on with my own eyes. I’m not isolated in my laboratory.

In chemistry, I like the idea of putting things together. My creations are directly applicated. I have a fast result. For example, when I start to repair something, I get a feedback after some months. It fulfills me to be a part of the process. The machines that work with our products produce the pieces we use in our daily life. And a phrase like «Oh you are also a part of that chain» is quite cool.

Tell us more about your daily work
I am developing new formulations for metal working fluids like cutting oils, grinding oils and forming oils. I combine different additives, depending on the application. After some laboratory tests, we are doing field studies and tests to see how it works and what to improve. It’s a process of modifying and improving our products to achieve the best result. I also support the customer service. Another part of my job is visiting the customers in case there is an issue or to develop a new product. It is interesting to work together with a range of companies from different branches, machines and products. Plus, the market is changing all the time. We face challenges every day, improving changing raw material, optimizing suppliers, adapt to new regulations and changing base oil qualities Then, environmentally friendly products are being more requested than ever before. That’s why we are looking for more sustainable and healthier materials. All these things have a big impact on the products.

Is there still a prejudice that science is a male profession?
Yes, it exists. Thanks to the pioneering activists in women rights, many things have changed. People are getting more information, women are getting more aware of their rights and the rules have changed. I think it’s still a long way to go, but we are on a good way. Years ago, when kids were asked to draw a scientist, 99.4 % of them drew a man. Today, there are more kids drawing also women, but it’s still not equal. We need to encourage the young girls to believe in themselves and that they can become anything they want in their life.

To come back to professions: Jobs and positions are still somehow labeled, and that makes it hard to break out of the standard. Same goes for the men as well, they are also forced to conform to norms of society in some levels. With all these biases, we push our population in categories. That impacts our sense of self and consequently our job selection. It makes me sad to hear things like “That is not a thing for women”.

Do you see a drive for women to be more represented in science?
Yes, I think today it is much more accepted for women to be in science. Social thinking has changed radically in recent years. To bring an example: Today we see more female scientists and researchers in the media. This makes it much easier for people to imagine this change of role in society. We have to create an environment where you don’t feel a huge difference depending on your gender. It is beautiful to live in a world where every person has individual abilities. Because we are also dependent on these skills and that is why every person must be valued for who they are - regardless of their gender.

What would you like to pass to our younger generation and our future scientists and leaders?
Science has no gender. Do not let your freedom of choice be influenced by the labels of our society you live in.

 

- Thank you Parvin for your interesting and revealing answers.

 

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