This is how a woman scientist is born: be curious, ask questions, make mistakes and be patient

Image Jean Goodall

Hello, good morning everyone. Let me start with a chimp greeting. What it means: "It's me, I'm Jane." I'm Jane Goodall. I think my interest in animals started when I was very small. My first real experience of observing the behavior of animals, how to do it and how not to do it, took place when I was four and a half years old. A real farm, not one of those industrial farms where animals live crammed in terrible conditions, but a real farm, with animals in the field. It was very exciting: cows, pigs, horses ... all together. I was commissioned to collect the eggs from the hens. The chickens went around pecking around the farm, but to put the eggs they got into some small chicken coops, where they also spent the night. They were that tall. I picked up the eggs, but, apparently, I was asking everybody: "If the egg is this big, where does the chicken have a hole like that to come out?"

I did not see any holes of this size. And I remember clearly seeing a brown hen entering one of the chicken coops. And I must have thought: "He's going to lay an egg! This is my opportunity". So I crawled after her. It was a big mistake, because he ran away and cackled in fright. With my four years I thought: "I have to find out. But this place is dangerous for chickens. No hen will lay eggs here. " There were six chicken coops. So I got into one that was empty and I waited. And wait. And wait. And, in the end, I was rewarded. A chicken entered ... If I close my eyes, I can see how it rose a little on its legs, and an egg fell on the straw. I do not know who was more excited, me or the chicken. Anyway, I was very excited. My poor mother had no idea where I was. I was missing for four hours. He even called the police. But even so, when he saw that excited girl running towards the house, instead of getting angry with me and saying to me: "How dare you leave without telling us anything?", Which would have killed my emotion, he sat down and listened to me. wonderful story of how a hen lays an egg.

I tell you this story for a reason. And that is the birth of a little scientist: be curious, ask questions, not have the correct answer, propose to find out for yourself, make a mistake, but not give up and learn to be patient. All the elements were there, but a different mother could have killed that incipient curiosity, and perhaps I would not have done what I did. Maybe I would not be sitting here now.

Laura. Hello, Jane, I'm Laura and I'm delighted to be able to share this moment with you. I would like to ask you how your love for nature began, and above all, all your love for chimpanzees.

The truth is that I was born loving animals. I do not know where it came from From my earliest childhood, I just wanted to be with animals, observe them, be outdoors. And I had a wonderful mother who fostered my love for animals. When I was little, in England, so many years ago ... Now I am almost eighty-five years old. During my childhood there was no television, there were no computers. You could not search anything on Google. So I learned, on the one hand, being in contact with nature, which is the best way to learn. But also of the books. I was passionate about books. My family had very little money. We were in the middle of World War II and we could not afford new books. My books were from the library, but I found a second-hand bookshop in which I spent hours. I saved the few pennies that paid me, and once, with ten years, I found a small book, which I still have. I had the money to buy it. It was titled "Tarzan of the monkeys". I fell madly in love with this glorious man in the jungle. And what did he do? He married the wrong Jane! I was very jealous. Obviously, I knew that Tarzan did not exist, but that's where I began to dream that when I was older I would go to Africa to live with wild animals and write books about them.

Everyone laughed at me: "You have no money. There is a war. Africa is far away. How the hell are you going to do that? In any case, you are a girl. Girls do not do that kind of thing. Dream of something you can get. " But my mother does not. We go back to my wonderful mother, who told me: "If you really want to do something like that, you will have to work very hard and take every opportunity, but do not give up." And, as you know, in the end I managed to go to Africa, I had that incredible opportunity. I did not choose to study the chimpanzees. I would have studied anything. Until I met Dr. Louis Leakey, famous paleontologist and anthropologist. I think I impressed him with everything he knew about the books, even though he had just arrived from England. So he gave me the incredible opportunity to liveand learn, not with any animal, but with the one that most resembles us. When I got there for the first time, the chimpanzees looked at me and ran away. But, in the end, I was able to approach them. At what point did my passion for working with chimpanzees and their conservation arise? I think it was the day the first chimpanzee lost his fear of me. I called him David Greybeard, which means Gray Beard, because he had a beautiful white beard. I was following him through the woods. It had been almost a year. I thought I had lost him, but I found him sitting looking back, almost as if he was waiting for me. Maybe I was. I sat close to him.

There was a palm nut on the ground. I took it and approached it with an open hand. He turned his face. I moved my hand closer. And then he turned around, looked me in the eyes, reached out, took the nut and threw it away. It was clear that he did not love her. And, then, he squeezed my fingers very gently. This is how chimpanzees reassure each other. In that moment, we communicate in a way that precedes human language. We both understood each other perfectly. I knew he did not want the nut, but he understood that my intention was good. That was a very special moment. I think that's when I decided that I should continue learning everything I could.

Cristina. Hi, Jane. My name is Cristina and I am very happy to be here and meet you, because I would love to do all the work you did. But, obviously, I can not. But at the time that you did it, that job was as thought ... It was thought to be done by men, not women. So, how do you think ...? What do you think is the role of women in the world? And what would you say to a girl who wants to be a scientist, like me?

Jane Goodall. First of all, when I started working with the chimps, nobody had done it before. Not that it was a man thing, it was not anyone's business. I was very lucky because Louis Leakey, who asked me to study chimpanzees, believed that women were better observers. And maybe that's the way it is. If we think about the role of women in evolution, what did women do? The woman was dedicated to take care of the children and take care of the men who went out to hunt and then came back tired, and they made the food for them. Then, as the woman was responsible for the children and to maintain peace in the family, she should have qualities such as patience, she should be able to understand her baby before she learned to speak. And I had to be very attentive to the mood of the family members. Because if the grandfather is in a bad mood, it is better that the child does not approach until it is passed to avoid conflicts. So it is possible that we have an advantage from an evolutionary point of view. I can not say for sure But, in any case, I believe that science is changing. Now women enter fields of science where they did not enter before. I have proof of this. Sometimes I seem to be showing off, but hundreds, literally hundreds of young women have written me or told me: "I make science thanks to you". They are mostly in the fields of conservation and animal behavior. But the other day I met one who was a chemist, who told me: "Because you entered the scientific world, which was dominated by men, I felt I could do it too." When I meet young women who really want to get into science, but maybe their families do not want them to do it, I just tell them what my mother said to me: "If you really want to do it, you're going to have to work very hard. Maybe more than your colleagues, I do not know. You will have to get good grades in your exams. In general, women are having great success in these fields. Do not give up. "

I wish my mother was alive so I could see how many people have come and said: "Jane, I want to thank you. As you have achieved, I know that I can too. " My favorite story on the subject of men and women in science, or in any other field, is from a tribe somewhere in Latin America. I'm not sure of what country. I think it's Guatemala, but I'm not sure. In that tribe of Indians the chief told me: "We think that the tribe is like an eagle. One wing is male and the other wing is female. And only when the two wings are equal, the tribe is able to fly. " I loved that story. We have to aspire to that. We have to aspire to equality. We are moving a lot in that direction. At least in the West. There is still a long way to go. But we will arrive if we work hard, if we take advantage of the opportunities and do not give up.

Posted by Carlos Chetrit, ADreamUP Founder

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