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Life at B-PHOT

Women’s Day: “It’s a natural thing!”


Happy International Women’s day! Today we celebrate the amazing achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme is all about embracing equity and promoting gender balance in all aspects of life. This is what we are doing at B-PHOT as well! #EmbraceEquity on the work floor.

Since the beginning, B-PHOT’s team was occupied by men AND women in leadership positions as well as in the field. Today we can proudly say that our workforce is equally divided between both genders. Let’s celebrate the power of women, and continue to push for a more equitable (and inclusive) future for all!

LAB VUB B PHOT Brussels Photonics Nathalie Vermeulen

Nathalie Vermeulen

"In a work environment, the focus should be on the quality of people. Ultimately, it is the qualities, interactions, understanding and respect for each other that play a role in the workplace but also outside it. Adhering to this is already a huge step forward, something we are already doing within B-PHOT."

< Prof. Nathalie Vermeulen in her laser lab, focussing on fundamental research.

Heidi Ottevaere

"Even though on the management level the genders are equally divided, it is not yet the case for the master students. Why not? People have different cultures. Here in Belgium, girls are already encouraged to study engineering or pursue a career in STEM. But in some other countries, breaking that glass ceiling is still harder. Getting the girls to apply for the master’s programme is the hardest part. Apart from that they need role models that give them a safe feeling."

> Prof. Heidi Ottevaere in the spectroscopy lab, working on a collaboration with industry.

LAB VUB B PHOT Brussels Photonics Heidi Ottevaere
Photon Hub Europe coordination team VUB B PHOT Brussels Photonics 06

Hugo Thienpont

"At B-PHOT it is all about appreciation for each other. It is a natural thing. We never really had to do any specific efforts to attract women. In the end everyone receives the same opportunities to contribute to our technological field. I’m happy that we are who we are."

< Prof. Hugo Thienpont together with the PhotonHub Europe coordination team (Nathalie Debaes, Susan Brindley and Peter Doyle).

Yunfeng Nie

"There is a good balance. We have collaborations between female and male researchers. We don’t care which gender you are. There is already more female representation amongst the students than before and compared to my previous educational environment. It’s continuously growing and of course, there can be small improvements, but it is already good."

> Yunfeng teaching students of the Master of Science in Photonics Engineering in the lab.

LAB Students in Lab 2 MSPE VUB B PHOT Brussels Photonics 04
STEM Photonics Explorer Kit Outreach Team Tine Ast VUB B PHOT Brussels Photonics 05

Astghik Chalyan

Having the right to work is what we celebrate on this day. And this right gave us an opportunity to truly break through all standards about scientific leadership.

< Astghik and her colleague Tine setting up self-made the Photonics Explorer Kit to create interest in STEM education.

Tine De Pauw

"Anything you do to convince girls to join STEM has no effect on boys, negative nor positive. We should unconsciously try to make STEM accessible for girls, without putting an explicit emphasis on gender."

> Tine working with youngsters on a 3D printer for the STEM activities in the 'Groeituin' project.

Read the booklet 'A gender-balanced approach in STEM'

STEM Tine Groeituin VUB B PHOT Brussels Photonics
LAB Researchers at work 3 VUB B PHOT Brussels Photonics 09

Tatevik Chalyan

"Sometimes when there is a discussion about problems that a woman faces while working in science fields, I react oddly, because for me those problems are very unusual. In B-PHOT we prioritize the expertise and knowledge of a researcher, but not the gender, which makes the environment naturally equal, and diverse. We respect and cherish each other independent of our physical nature! Isn't it beautiful?"

< Tatevik checking a mould with colleagues Sergei & Kurt.

Sara Abbasi

"It’s outstanding how we benefit from the complementarity of our characters at B-PHOT, regardless of our gender. I have always enjoyed the diversity here on a professional and personal basis."

> Sara in a meeting with colleagues Heidi and Qing in Austria.

OFFICE Meeting Sara Heidi Qing VUB B PHOT Brussels Photonics 2

International Women's Day 2023

B-PHOT wants to contribute to a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. In our university and field of research, we aim for an inclusive, diverse and equitable environment where everyone feels safe to be who they are.