Type and press Enter.


Monumental Women

“A monument is  a statue, a building, or a structure erected to commemorate a notable person or an event.”

We advocate recognition of Women as a monument of our inspirations and more. We often overlook the great realizations women made to Arts & Culture. This project is our call to stand up with great women and to share their resilience to face adversity and to emerge as a monument.

This is a series of portraits of ordinary women doing extraordinary things in world where we desperately need more empowerment for our heroes.

不朽的女人Monumental Women 


 我們主張將對女性的認可作為我們靈感和更多靈感的豐碑。 我們經常忽視女性對藝術與文化的偉大認識。 這個項目是我們呼籲與偉大的女性站在一起,並分享她們面對逆境並成為紀念碑的韌性的時刻這是平凡的女人們在世界上做著非凡事情一系列的肖像,在這裡我們需要給予我們的英雄們更多的力量。 

We asked another incredible woman to tell her story: Dr Xiufang Xin, PhD, plant biologist, Principal Investigator of a research lab and an all-round inspiration.

1. Tell us about yourself. What do you do?

I am originally from the Northern part of China. I went to college in Beijing, and then went to the United States, where Ispent nine years there studying and working, before moving back to China and settling in Shanghai.

I am a research scientist, and as such, I work in a research institute. My focus is on plant biology within the big scope of biological sciences. In a nutshell, I research how plants defend themselves against pathogens in nature.

After getting my PhD degree and doing my post-doc in the US, Istarted my own lab in Shanghai. I am the Principal Investigator(or group leader), leading fourteen scientists, including graduate students and other research staff. Everyone in the lab has their own research project, so my role is to provide advice on all projects and supervise. Basically, I discuss and solve problemsto push projects forward.

2. What made you choose your field and profession? Was it an easy career choice?

To tell the truth, it was an easy choice for me to do science, partially because the education system emphasized the importance of “science and technology”, when I was in high school. I did not face any pressure studying science as a woman, as I might have, if I had picked a more competitive or male-friendly subject like engineering. For example, it is easilyaccepted in society that girls are great at conducting experiments, especially in biology field.

I chose to do a biology major in college, and I really wanted to go to grad school. Since I was little, I always wanted to gain more knowledge and, as a biology major, getting a higher degree is much better for future career development. There were some difficult moments during my doctorate period, but I finally went through and became more confident afterwards. I wanted to succeed from my heart, and that is always my driving force.

I did question, whether I am good enough or not to pursue a career in academia before my postdoc. You can choose to go to an industry job or stay in academia, which is very different, and I was not sure. So I tried two different internships in companies and realized that I like basic research. I got to know myselfmore, and in the end, knew what I really want.

3. What is it like studying science and working in this field in China, as a woman?

Actually, studying in school was fine; in fact, at least half of the graduate students in biology are women. However, few become group leaders and pursue a science or research career, after getting a PhD degree. Many choose other kinds of jobs, perhaps easier or less demanding, or quitting altogether for various reasons.

The pressure mounted when I established my lab. It can be challenging and stressful, because leading a lab is like running a company and I need to make sure the projects go well and thatthe lab has continuous financial support. All the experimentsnecessitate funding, so we need to obtain it from the governmentor the private sector, and that is part of my role.

4. You are an established professional. What is it like to be part of the scientific community?

I communicate with scientists from all over the world. I must stress that scientists are generally very cool people, so if your work is top-notch, you get the respect you deserve.

5. What about your life in Shanghai?

I love Shanghai, because the culture is open and more liberalthan elsewhere. There are many universities and research institutes. Here, you can feel free and liberated, and my colleagues are very supportive. Shanghai provides a great atmosphere for life and work.

6. How would you like to see woman’s role evolve in the scientific community in the future?

I would encourage more women scientists to stay in academia. Don’t choose an easier job, solely because you think you need to make more sacrifices for the family or because you believe that girls cannot be very strong. You can find ways to balance work and life and search for the support needed. It’s just a shame to see many talented women quit their career altogether.

I encourage girls to be braver and accept challenges, go out of the comfort zone and be the best they can.

7. What are some of the biggest challenges that women are facing today?

Balancing their work and family life (i.e. raising their children), is an obvious answer to me. This affects many women in their professional development – while not all women stop working, their careers are influenced by this challenge.

Also, there are lots of women who do well in their jobs, but when you look at the top of an organisation, notably the leadership, then you notice right away that it is still difficult for women to get to top positions. This difficulty also means that while some women have the potential, they may choose not to pursue this road as they assume it might be too demanding.

8. What actions could accelerate gender equality in Shanghai?

Society, including companies and institutions, should have more policies to support women. We must strive to provide a more supportive environment.

To give a positive example, in my field there are milestones for career development, like awards. There is an age limit for applications to some prestigious awards, for example 40. But for women the age limit is several years higher than for men, to compensate the time they might have spent on maternity leave.

In general, and more formally speaking, there are laws that protect women’s rights, like keeping their job when they are on maternity leave. And these laws must keep evolving.

Culturally, the progress might be tricky or slower. Women face a lot of challenges, balancing work and family life and society should be more supportive. While Shanghai is quite culturally liberal and the situation is not too bad here overall, I would like to emphasize my point by saying that the family should support women’s professional choices and provide help if possible.

9. What message do you have for men regarding gender equality?

As a cultural issue, gender equality demands a long-termchange. Around the world, there are fewer women in leadershippositions. In Asian countries, even more so, as there is not muchsupportive environment for women to become leaders. It will take time to change, but numerous women have exceptionaltalents, and can lead. In my opinion, women should be encouraged to be braver, to pursue higher positions.

10. Do you think scientists need to be creative?

Curiosity and creativity are among the most important things for scientists. We need to solve problems and create newknowledge.

For example, with Covid-19, we don’t exactly know why this new virus is so infectious and the potential long-term detrimental effects on human bodies. We need to approach many questions around this, and we need to come up with good ideasto answer them. People with free and creative thinking generatemore ideas (that might seem crazy at first), or provide different angles to tangle a difficult problem, and even if most of the ideas proved wrong eventually, we can then do experiments to provide proof. If 2 out of the 10 ideas are right, it is already a significant success rate for science! And this is how we push human knowledge ahead.

There are many interesting stories about breakthroughs in science. Many of them rely on creativity, followed by evidencethrough research, to seek real-life demonstrations. But creativity comes first.


1. 介紹一下您自己。 你是做什麼?

我最初來自中國的北部。 我上過北京的大學,然後去了美國,在那裡度過了九年的學習和工作的經歷,然後才回到中國定居上海。

我是一名研究科學家,因此,我在研究所工作。 我的重點是在生物科學的大範圍內研究植物生物學。 簡而言之,我研究了植物如何防禦自然界中的病原體。

獲得博士學位並在美國做博士後,我在上海建立了自己的實驗室。 我是首席研究員(或小組負責人),領導14位科學家,包括研究生和其他研究人員。 實驗室中的每個人都有自己的研究項目,所以我的角色是為所有項目提供建議並進行監督。 基本上,我透過討論和解決問題以推動項目的持續前進。

2. 是什麼讓您選擇自己的領域和專業? 這是一個容易的職業選擇嗎?

說實話,對我來說,科學是一個容易的選擇,部分原因是在我上高中時,教育體系強調“科學和技術”的重要性。 如果我選擇了像工程學這樣更具競爭性或男性友善性的學科,那麼像女人一樣地學習科學,我將不會面臨任何壓力。 例如,社會上很容易接受女孩擅長進行實驗,特別是在生物學領域。

我選擇在大學攻讀生物學專業,我真的很想去讀研究生。由於我很小,所以我一直想獲得更多的知識,作為具有生物學專業的人,獲得更高的學位對於未來的職業發展要好得多。 在我的博士學位期間,總有一些困難的時刻,但是我在我經歷了以後,變得更加地自信。 我想發自內心的成功,而這永遠是我的動力。

我確實問過,在博士後之前,我是否足夠擅長從事學術界的工作。 我可以選擇去行業工作或留在學術界,這是非常不同的,我當時並不確定。 因此,我在公司嘗試了兩次不同的實習後,並意識到我喜歡基礎研究。 我逐漸了解了自己,最後知道了我真正想要的是什麼。

3. 作為一名女性,在中國學習科學並從事這一領域的工作感覺如何?

實際上,在學校學習是可以的。 實際上,生物學研究生中至少有一半是女性。 但是,只有少數人在獲得博士學位後成為小組負責人並從事科學或研究事業。 許多人選擇其他類型的工作,可能更輕鬆或更省時,或者由於家庭需求而完全辭職。

建立實驗室時壓力越來越大。 這將是充滿挑戰和壓力的,因為領導實驗室就像經營一家公司一樣,我需要確保項目進展順利並且實驗室擁有持續的財務支持。 所有實驗都需要資金,因此我們需要從政府或私營部門獲得資金,這是我的職責之一。

4. 您是一位既定的專業人士。 成為科學界的一部分感覺如何?

我與來自世界各地的科學家交流。 我必須強調,科學家通常都是非常酷的人,因此,如果您的工作是一流的,那麼您將得到應有的尊重。

5. 您在上海的生活如何?

我愛上海,因為這裡的文化比其他任何地方都開放和自由。 在這裡有許多大學和研究機構。您可以自由自在地生活,我的同事們也都表示非常支持。 上海這城市為生活和工作提供了絕佳的氛圍。

6. 您希望未來女性在科學界的角色如何演變?

我鼓勵更多的女科學家留在學術界。 不要選擇簡單的工作,僅僅是因為您認為您需要為家庭做出更多的犧牲,或者因為您認為女孩子不能很堅強。 您可以找到平衡工作與生活並尋求所需支持的方法。 看到許多才華橫溢的女性完全辭職,真是可惜。


7. 你認為當代女性面對最大的挑戰是什麼?


8. 你認為什麼舉動能促進上海的性別平權觀念?

包括公司和機構在內的整個社會,應該立定更多的政策來支持女性,我們必須努力提供一個更友善的環境。舉一個正面的例子,在我的專業領域中職業發展是具有里程碑意義的像是獲得獎項。 申請某些享有盛譽的獎項是有年齡限制的,例如40歲好了,但女性的年齡限制比男性高幾年,以此補償她們可能花在產假上的時間。


如果說從文化層面來著手的話可能會比較棘手且進度緩慢,人們對於女性在面對工作家庭、社會之間取得平衡的挑戰,應給予更多支持。 儘管上海總體上情況還不錯且在文化上相當自由,但我還是想強調說家庭應支持婦女的職業選擇,並提供其可能給予的幫助。

9. 你有什麼關於性別平權的訊息想對男人說?

因為文化的緣故,性別平等需要經歷很長時間的改變,在世界各地擔任領導職務的女性人數正在減少,亞洲國家情況更是如此,婦女擔任領導職務的這種環境不常見 改變是需要時間的,但其實許多女性具有非凡的才能並可以領導,我認為應該鼓勵婦女勇敢去追求更高的職位。

10. 您認為科學家需要創新嗎?

好奇心和創造力是科學家最重要的事情。 我們需要解決問題並創造新知識。

例如,對於Covid-19,我們無法確切知道為什麼這種病毒具有如此高的感染力並殺死了許多人。 我們需要解決許多問題,我們需要提出一些好建議來回答這些問題。 具有自由和創造性思維的人會產生更多的想法(乍看起來似乎很瘋狂),或者提供不同的角度來解決一個難題,即使大多數想法最終被證明是錯誤的,我們也可以進行實驗以提供證明。如果10個想法中有2個是正確的,那麼這已經是科學的巨大成功! 這就是我們將人類知識推向前進的方式。

關於科學突破,總有著許多有趣的故事。 他們之中的許多人都依靠著創造力,然後通過研究提供證據,以尋求現實生活中的示範。 但是創造力永遠是第一順位的。

Author: Anna LUKINA

Translation by CHUANG Shih-Ning