A day to celebrate

After several weeks of preparations and hard work on the part of many people, the events to mark International Women's Day at CERN on 8 March were a genuine success. They were followed with great interest by the outside world, judging by the flurry of activity on twitter, various blogs and the media coverage they generated.


Women on shift in the CERN control rooms.

Women were overwhelmingly in the majority at the controls of the experiments and accelerators throughout the day, as well as acting as the guides for all official visits. There was no shortage of enthusiasm!

"I'm very happy that CERN has supported the project, and I'm especially encouraged by the enthusiastic response from everyone who's taken part", says Pauline Gagnon, a physicist from the Indiana University group and a member of the ATLAS collaboration, who was behind the idea. "I hope that this kind of initiative will help to show that women have a place in science and that young women thinking of going into physics will be reassured that they will not be on their own".

The day's events underlined that the disciplines of science and engineering are equally well suited to women as to men. "What counts are your talents and skills. Science and physics are not the exclusive preserve of men. Mentalities have to change", says Director-General Rolf Heuer.

There are plenty of people who can testify that it's possible to combine an exciting career in science with a normal family life.

"All the women working at CERN have contributed to the Organization's success. It's true that there's still a long way to go when it comes to numbers but we've already achieved a lot. Today's events are proof of that, and we can be proud of what we've done", adds Paula Collins, a physicist with the LHCb experiment.

Video-link with Fermilab (US) from the CMS control room.

International Women's Day at CERN on 8 March highlighted the role of women in technical fields, but it's clear that the Organization relies on the contributions of all its personnel to operate successfully. "The gender imbalance in the technical professions is an issue but it's also important to stress that women play an essential role in all sectors of CERN's activities", concludes Rolf Heuer.

The official website of the event, which will remain active, features videos, interviews, photos and posters of the occasion.

The organising committee wishes to thank the Management for its support, as well as all those who helped to make the event a success.

Watch the video with the highlights of the day:


by Laëtitia Pedroso