Science has no gender: An ecohydrologist


Science has no gender, but it is an undeniable issue that the gender of scientists can have an impact on the development of their scientific career. We find ourselves making assumptions about gender, based on the scientific domain, or the level of seniority. Do you assume the gender of this scientist based on their profession, or maybe based on their experiences? We present: A scientist in the field of ecohydrology.

Age: 45

Seniority: Principal Investigator / Group leader

What do you investigate?

“I investigate how much water plants use to grow and how this is affected by rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere and climate change. I also build models of the interactions between vegetation and water resources.”

Ultimate goal of your science?

“I want to be able to predict how vegetation responds to environmental change and how our actions may impact ecosystems and water resources. This will hopefully enable society to take the right decisions about land and resource use.”

Highlighted scientific discoveries

“I found out that our burning of fossil fuels and the resulting increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations likely reduces vegetation water use in the short term, but in the long term may lead to denser vegetation and even more water use at dry sites.”

If you have children, have you ever been in a situation where certain expectations from your peers changed after/because you have children, or felt excluded in any way?

“I have one child and most of my peers’ expectations did actually change since then, in a positive way. They did not expect me any more to work late at night or join as many after work activities. Maybe this was just an adjustment of the expectations to the new facts. Sometimes I feel a bit excluded when I am not even informed about certain activities because nobody expects me to participate anyway.”

Have you ever been treated differently because of your gender? or maybe found yourself being the only person of your gender in the room? if yes, how did you deal with this situation, or what did you think? did it discourage you or make you feel even more motivated to continue?

“Privately, I have been a few times in a situation where I would have been the only representative of my gender (e.g. parents committee at school) and after being made aware of this fact, without indication that I could actually enrich the existing group, I happily withdrew. Professionally, I witness more and more often discussions where I cannot participate in the same way as others because of my gender. All I can do then is listen, not talk. Sometimes I ask questions when I struggle to relate to what is being said.”


This scientist is Dr Stan Schymanski from the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). Stan studied Biology in Germany, before completing a doctorate in Environmental Engineering in Australia, followed by a 5-year researcher position in Germany, and another set of temporary scientist appointments in Switzerland over 6 years. Since 2017, Stan is an FNR ATTRACT fellow at LIST, where he holds a permanent position as a scientist.
The lack of long-term perspective at any of the previous institutions were becoming exceedingly frustrating for Stan and his wife (who is also a scientist), both professionally and privately. Find out more about Stan Schymanski in the series ‘FNR ATTRACT Fellows – the people behind the science

Food for thought: Did you expect this scientist to be a man, or a woman? If you thought one or the other, what were your reasons?

More in the ‘Science has no gender’ series (more to follow!)

Science has no gender: A social geographer

Science has no gender: A telecommunications engineer

Science has no gender: An experimental psychologist

Science has no gender: A computer scientist

Science has no gender: A mathematician

Science has no gender: A psychologist

More support needed for women (to pursue a career) in science

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