Chemists aren’t just boring and unsociable nerds, but they’re fun-loving girls too. Mimi den Uijl (27), Noor Abdulhussain (28) and Lotte Schreuders (27) prove it with their award-winning Instagram account SistersinScience_NL. We spoke to Den Uijl about the success.
At every party, Mimi den Uijl of Sisters in Science had the same remarks: “You can only become a chemistry teacher with chemistry, can you? Or ‘Are you studying chemistry? So you must be very boring and smart. At one point, she was done with it.
This is why the doctoral student launched the SistersinScience_NL Instagram account in January with his doctoral colleague Abdulhussain and junior lecturer Schreuders. “We wanted to get rid of all stereotypes,” says Den Uijl. They are already off to a good start. The account now has over 2,400 subscribers and they won the NWO Diversity Initiative Award with € 50,000 in cash prizes.
What kind of reward is it?
“This is an award for initiatives that ensure that the exact sciences – like chemistry – reach a wider audience. For example, we try to give our subscribers a glimpse into our daily life as chemists. And above all to make them passionate about studying or working. We’re actually a kind of science role model or influencer.
At Sisters in Science, we show what we all do, but also that we have as much fun as everyone else
And is it necessary?
,,Sure. Oddly enough, not many people want to study chemistry, even though it is a lot of fun. To be honest, I didn’t realize that at first either. I thought there were only chemistry guys and they were all non-social nerds. This turned out to be completely wrong. If I had had a role model myself, I probably would have had less doubts about my upbringing.
“Chemistry is also often presented as very dry matter. Forensic science, for example, looks a lot sexier than chemistry, although they don’t differ much at all. Plus, there is a lot you can do with it. You can become a teacher with it, but you can also work for the government or in a hospital.
Can you refute these ideas on Instagram?
“We try. People have misconceptions about chemists for years. At Sisters in Science, we show what we all do, but also that we have as much fun as everyone else. own version of a popular movie. We don’t mind setbacks either, sometimes things don’t go well in the lab. And we share that too. We often get comments that people find very recognizable. We are also primarily three normal people.
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Are you already recognized in the street?
The owl laughs. “We are indeed recognized at the University of Amsterdam. It’s not that strange, the three of us work here and there are a lot of followers studying or working here. But we are also increasingly known in the world of chemistry. We are sometimes approached in conference, which is really nice.
You will become even more famous with this award.
“We always find it incredible that we have won this award. We could never have imagined this success in January. And now we can think about what to do with the 50,000 euros in prize money.
“Fortunately, we already have plans ready. We want to use the money to promote Sisters in Science. So not only operating through Instagram, but also really in the country. We prefer to visit high schools to explain everything to students about chemistry here. Our target group is now mainly chemistry students or people who already work in this sector. It would be great if we could really be role models for future students.
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