Women in Science: Greta Berteselli

International day of women and girls in science

Since its declaration as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science back in 2015, February 11th has been the ideal moment to discuss and to promote actions for a full and equal access and participation of women and girls in science.

To continue with our initiative from last year, we have talked to some of the women working in ClearFarm project, to know their experiences and share their views about science and gender equality.

Greta Veronica Berteselli is a researcher at the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences in the University of Milan, in Italy.

What is your role in the ClearFarm project?

I’m a research assistant. I carry out all the activities required by the project related to the work package 3, in which my research group is involved. Activities range from literature review to in field data collection (for example application of sensors, evaluation of welfare measures, collection of saliva and hair samples), from the drafting of protocols to data processing. From writing articles to disseminating results.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Currently I live in a small town near Milan (Italy) where I grew up and where I have returned. I graduated in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan, then I specialized in Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare and I continued my training with a PhD in Animal Production (Ethology curriculum) in the same University.

Thanks to the grants, I was able not only to expand my theoretical knowledge, but also to participate in research and field activities. I have always been interested in animal behaviour and welfare, particularly pet animals. I also had the opportunity to do an internship at UAB. In the last years I worked on the development of a protocol for the assessment of welfare of shelter dogs (Shelter Quality protocol) and dogs subjected to Trap-Neuter-Release program in Italy through projects funded by the Ministry of Health and Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Abruzzo and Molise. I continue to work in the field of veterinary behavioural medicine.

How did you decide to become an animal scientist?

It was a gradual process that followed my studies and training. I’ve always been a sucker for the animal world, and when I had the chance to explore it scientifically, I realized it was the thing I wanted to do, and I threw myself into it. Researching in the field of animal science stimulates my curiosity and always gives me new input for new projects. Stress mechanism and response were my first “scientific” loves!

As a female researcher, what has been your biggest challenge up until now?

I don’t know if this challenge is because I’m a female researcher but for me the biggest challenge was getting out of my comfort zone. Being able to start over again and again with new projects and new perspectives also changing place and working group. And the Clearfarm project is one of these challenges!

This approach, though tiring, has allowed me to improve my skills not only of research but of collaboration and teamwork capacity. It also allowed me to hone my problem-solving skills to overcome any difficulties in order to reach the intended goal.

What problems faced in your career do you think have been related to the fact that you are a woman?

I think that, like other working women, our skills and professionalism are often diminished as women or, at any rate, not taken properly into account. Especially in environments still masculinist my role, although superior compared to other figures, often is not recognized. Many times, I have heard myself called miss or lady when instead male colleagues were called doctor or professor. The lack of recognition of professionalism also affects the economy and access to positions of power remains difficult. And in some cases undermines one’s self-esteem

Briefly, what excites you most about your work?

Being able to investigate and discover new perspectives and ways to assess animal welfare that remains a gigantic topic still partly unexplored and I really want to delve into these areas still unknown! Be part of a change, a new approach to address the great problems of the contemporary for a real One health! Too ambitious?