An addition to the list of women scientists who also took the challenge of being mothers is Prof. Cyril Salang, Ph.D. of the Materials Science and Engineering Program (MSEP). She has a doctorate degree in Physics and is currently an Assistant Professor at the university.
Dr. Salang’s high school mentors, who showed exceptional skills in physics and mathematics, were the ones who first piqued her interest in science and eventually encouraged her to take up a degree in Physics. These mentors, who were mostly females, were big inspirations to her because they debunked her “old” perception that only men can be good at math and be scientists.
“As educators, we should discourage gender stereotyping and putting gender labels on career paths our students may take. We should realize that these perceptions will affect the choices our students make. Their interests should matter in choosing their careers.”
While taking up her doctorate degree in 2008, Dr. Salang also started teaching in the National Institute of Physics (NIP). She stayed in NIP for almost 5 years and was re-hired in 2019 to work in MSEP. She has been with the College of Science and UP for a total of 6.5 years. Her research interests include semiconductor growth via molecular beam epitaxy and she is currently venturing into two-dimensional nanomaterials such as graphene and hexagonal boron nitride.
As she was pursuing higher studies, one of Dr. Salang’s goals was to contribute to the body of knowledge. And she was lucky enough that she became a part of the Condensed Matter Physics Laboratory, where her mentors and colleagues supported this goal.
After successfully entering the world of Physics and having fulfilled many of her scientific goals, Dr. Salang is now facing a new challenge: being a first-time mother. She knew that choosing to become a mom and to continue her career would entail challenges. True enough, she admits that it is a struggle to juggle her responsibilities in her family and career, but Dr. Salang is proud that despite this, she is happy with her choice of being a scientist mom.
“I’m blessed I have a supportive husband who understands me and my needs as a working mother. Our first months as parents were tough, but we always found a way to be there for our child and, at the same time, be able to do our respective jobs. It has been a big transition, but I am happy.”
Dr. Salang also expresses her gratefulness to the faculty and staff in MSEP for being understanding colleagues, and commends UP, which abides by the Magna Carta of Women. Being in this supportive environment somehow made it easier for her to manage her schedule as a working mother. Dr. Salang believes that women should be free to choose whether they want to be a housewife, work outside of home, or even do both.
Dr. Salang also reiterates that perseverance, determination, and practice—not only innate abilities—will make a person a good scientist. “I think everyone has a chance to do science. As long as you have the passion, you should never stop dreaming that you can contribute not only to the body of knowledge, but also to new technologies that can benefit society.”