23 Feb News
We spoke to Raquel Valdés, R&D Manager in Ideagro.
To mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which takes place on February 11 , we asked her about the role of women and girls in science and how the situation has changed over the years. These were her answers.
Ideagro is an independent applied research company serving the agri-food industry. We specialise in the development of fertilisers, biostimulants, products based on microorganisms, biofungicides and soil health. We have two specialised laboratories, one for microbiology, including both pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms, and the other for biochemistry and quality (soil health, nutraceutical properties and mycotoxins). The company also has experimental field stations located in the region of Murcia for outdoor crops, greenhouses and fruit trees. At Ideagro, as Head of R&D, I am in charge of managing and coordinating trials and implementing the aforementioned lines of work, together with the rest of my amazing team.
Difficult question, I think the most important thing is for girls as well as boys, women or men, to have the opportunity to study what they like and have a calling for. Perhaps girls do not choose scientific and technical careers because of the role that women have played until quite recently, which centred on looking after their families.
I think it is important for girls to have female role models in all fields of knowledge, which is why it is important they are aware of and value the contributions of women in science. If female scientists were more widely known, this would help to promote these aspects and increase female participation in STEM careers in the future. I believe that there are already many women working in these fields.
The biggest change I mainly see is the digital transformation of agriculture and, fortunately for all of us, progress towards a more sustainable farming industry. As far as women’s participation in the agricultural sector is concerned, they are involved in the entire value chain from the field to the laboratories, offices, factories, and processing industries, though perhaps to a lesser extent in technical meetings and congresses and scientific promotion.
No, the truth is that I have always been very lucky professionally and I have been able to develop and grow at work without gender obstacles.
Agricultural engineering is perhaps one of the engineering fields with the highest percentage of women, I remember that on my degree course there were about 50% women and 50% men, and throughout my professional career I have also had the chance to work in different research positions with outstanding female colleagues.
Of course, I would define it in three words, accuracy, commitment and responsibility.
I am an Agricultural Engineer and was awarded my PhD from the Polytechnic University of Cartagena in 2015. I also have a Master’s degree in Advanced Techniques in Agricultural and Food Research and Development.
From 2007 to 2014 (8 years) I worked in research at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena as a Technical Agricultural Engineer in the Plant Production Department on national research projects related to ornamental plant growth under water and salt stress conditions, participating in three projects funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. During this time, I contributed scientifically to the advancement of knowledge in the application of automatic irrigation systems for vegetable crops to optimise the efficient use of water, especially in the installation, planning, use and analysis of measurements taken with moisture and/or electrical conductivity sensors in soil.
Subsequently, I worked as a technical advisor for integrated pest management of table grapes covering over 60 hectares in the Alhama de Murcia production area. I have been working in IDEAGRO since 2016 as the R&D Manager, coordinating and managing applied agricultural research trials, mainly developing new biostimulants, and products based on beneficial microorganisms, biofungicides and bioinsecticides.