Ortensia Amoroso is a Research Fellow at the Physics Department of the University of Salerno, Italy. She holds a fixed-term research contract funded by the Horizon 2020 project S4CE Science for Clean Energy. Ortensia is also part of the work team of the PRIN-2017 MATISSE project funded by the Italian Ministry of Education and Research. In both projects, there is a task specifically dedicated to gender equality issues. Ortensia’s main research interests concern the study of induced seismicity by sub-surface geo-resources exploitation. She carries out teaching activities for the Ph.D. course in Mathematics, Physics and Applications and for the master’s degree course in Environmental Sciences.

Gender inequality blemishes Earth Sciences more than any other STEM fields.

In recent years, many studies have revealed that women hold fewer senior faculty positions than men, are given lower ratings to identical abstracts submitted with male author names, and are less likely to be first authors of peer-reviewed publications.

Providing a collective voice to the female experience and creating mentoring opportunities for career advancement could be the keystone to overcome gender inequality in the workplace.

Sharing and exchanging knowledge and experience with female professionals could increase awareness of gender stereotypes and factors affecting women’s careers in science. At the same time, it could be of guidance in preventing the number of women dropping out of science because facing gender-based barriers.

What is your story, Ortensia? Why Seismology?

I earned my PhD in Geophysics (with major in Seismology) in 2012 at the Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, with a thesis entitled “Three dimensional seismic imaging and earthquake locations in a complex, segmented fault region in Southern Apennines (Italy)”. I carried out my PhD research activities at the University of Naples Federico II, within the Seismology Lab of the Physics Department.

Mine is the testimony of a woman who comes from southern Italy and who has managed to pursue a high-level educational path in the universities of southern Italy.

When I chose the faculty of Physics I was driven by the strong desire to do something important, something to believe in. Physics, in this sense, gave me great satisfaction. Although my course of study was not brilliant at the beginning, the encouragement of some colleagues and professors boosted me to overcome some limits. “You have an aptitude for research!” – a male professor once told me. So I kept going.

I was lucky enough to meet inspiring, open-minded individuals and to have the ability to avoid negative people.

Gender inequality in the workplace is an issue that I have only really begun to reflect on in recent years. Actually, since I started a family, got children… and the real difficulties came!

At the beginning, realizing my dream of having a family gave me a great positive push in my work. I learned to solve a problem in a very short time and that improved my efficiency.

Over time, the main difficulties I encounter in the workplace are those faced by all working mothers. So, what’s so different when you are in research? Two things: one positive and the other negative. The first is that research gives you a great flexibility in terms of working hours and self-organization. The second is that.. you can hardly not think about your work!

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