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The 'Sisters in Science' Mimi den Uijl, Lotte Schreuders and Noor Abdulhussein have been awarded the Diversity Initiative Award 2021 by the Dutch Research Council NWO. The three chemists receive a sum of 50,000 euros for their initiative that aims to break stereotypes and show that everyone can be a scientist.

The Sisters in Science: Noor Abdulhussain, Mimi den Uijl and Lotte Schreuders. Photo by Van Harte Gefotografeerd.

The three young women started Sisters in Science NL in early 2021 as an Instagram account, posting experiences from their daily life in science. They want to inspire others to pursue a scientific career by being a role model under the motto 'If you can't see it, you can't be it'.  Over the past year, they have received a lot of media attention and engaged in collaborations with parties such as the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society KNCV, and the Royal Association of the Dutch Chemical Industry VNCI.

According to the award jury the Sisters in Science "understand their generation, show stereotyping as reality and don't shy away from negative elements. They honestly show what is possible and that is why PhD students Mimi den Uijl and Noor Abdulhussain and junior lecturer Lotte Schreuders are the right influencers of the target group".

Change the picture of chemistry

In an interview published at the UvA website in Dutch, Den Uijl explains that when it came to considering a career, all three women had struggled with the same stereotypes regarding science and chemistry. "We think it's time to change this. We are trying to change the picture of chemistry that we grew up with. Young students need role models."

With the prize money, the Sisters of Science want to professionalize their platform and better reach their intended audience. Schreuders: "Recently we have learned that we are not yet able to effectively reach high school students via the current platforms (Instagram, TikTok, etc.). These young people are the ones we can inspire. We can't start early enough to enthuse schoolchildren and show them that it can be done." Abdulhussain adds: "Young people are inundated with information through the current platforms and it is therefore difficult to get through with our message. We would like to invest our prize in these students. For example, we are thinking of offering workshops at high schools".

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