SHE is SCIENCE: Sergey Tokarev Talks About Art Exhibit Dedicated to Ukrainian Women Scientists

Reface Investor and project initiator Sergey Tokarev tells us about the SHE is SCIENCE project. The theme of the large-scale art project, which started in February, is aimed at enlightening the general public about the contribution of Ukrainian women scientists to global science. In March, the project campaign showcased portraits of 12 outstanding women scientists popular for their achievements in mathematics, physics, genetics, biology, and other sciences. Project initiator Sergey Tokarev explained how illustrators could contribute to the popularization of women in science. Mr. Sergey Tokarev also discussed the other activities within the scope of the art campaign SHE is SCIENCE.

SHE is SCIENCE: What is it About?

The art exhibition, which was held at the Unit.Verse conference hall showcased twelve portraits during the pre-premiere. The portraits were created by famous illustrators from all over Ukraine. Each portrait featured an overview of the career of each heroine, her scientific discoveries, and achievements. Businessman Sergey Tokarev further explained: ‘The combination of such different spheres—art and science—predetermined an unusual combination of forms. We decided to choose an unusual format for the exhibition. The event included speeches by scientists—the heroines of the paintings—who told the audience about their career, an interview with the headliner of the creative group that created the paintings, Sergiy Maidukov, as well as a panel discussion “Generation Equality” about gender, age, and other kinds of parity. The event received wide media coverage, so I believe it achieved its goal—to acquaint as many people as possible with women scientists and to debunk the stereotype that science is exclusively a male sphere.

According to Sergey Tokarev, the SHE is SCIENCE project idea was conceived after years of observing gender inequality in the IT industry. Obviously, gender inequality is present in the scientific field at large. Sergey Tokarev explained: ‘I noticed that men at interviews almost always overestimate their capabilities, their skills, and ask for bigger salaries. At the same time, girls, on the contrary, significantly underestimate their merits, and they also ask for less money. I think this is unfair, and we decided to fight this injustice’.

Sergey Tokarev further explained:‘Once we conducted a very interesting experiment: we asked people to name prominent Ukrainian scientists. Everyone quickly recalled Korolev, Vernadsky, Sikorsky, and many other men, and almost no one could name any women scientists. We thought that this was wrong and that this situation should be somehow corrected. This is how this project was born.

Gender inequality is still a pressing issue for women all over the globe. The SHE is SCIENCE project is sponsored by international organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund and UN Women, which financed the campaigns on city lights in Kyiv.

An Amazing Prize to be Won

As part of the project initiative, SHE is SCIENCE also consists of a literary component. The curators held an essay competition about portrait heroines among girls between the age of 14 to 21. The participants are required to write biographies of the scientists and describe in detail their contributions to the science world and how their contributions have impacted the improvement of science worldwide. The essays are meant to express their attitude towards the heroines’ personalities. The organizers have received over 500 essays, which will be examined by a jury consisting of journalists, bloggers, editors, writers, and scientists. Mr. Sergey Tokarev said: ‘There will be 12 winners in total—the best essay about each of the 12 women scientists. The Grand Prix of the competition—$4000 funding for any kind of education—will receive the best one of the 12 finalists,’

In addition to the Grand Prix of the competition, the funds garnered during a charity auction in May will be added to the prize pool. The 12 portraits and other exhibits will be lots at the auction.