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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

21 February 2022

International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11th February 2022) offers a chance for the scientific community to reflect on gender diversity in STEM fields and the role of women and girls as agents of change. To mark the day, we asked PML staff members for their insights and advice.
Sea at sunrise

What science organisations are doing or could be doing to be more inclusive:

"Promoting a culture where discrimination is unacceptable, identifying and taking steps to overcome unconscious bias, removing obstacles to equality in pay and career advancement."

"Provide capacity-building events for women at a high level in their career, so they can learn how to lead, inspire and help other women."

"The Athena Swan charter has given PML an invaluable framework to examine what we do well to support our female staff and students, and where we still need to better."

"Looking at non-traditional models of entry to higher and post doc education and early career roles, providing better options for hybrid working and flexible working for work-life balance, and tackling old-fashioned "macho" behaviours."

Advice for women and girls looking to start a career in science:

"Believe in yourself and work hard. Anything is possible if you want it, but you do have to find the right balance of all aspects of life."

"Parenthood still unfortunately disproportionally impacts the careers of mothers compared to fathers. Don’t put off having children while you wait on the ‘right time’ in your career, as I don’t think this ever exists. But do plan how you and your partner will share childcare responsibilities."

"Go for it! Look for inspiring role models. Believe that the prospects for women in the future will be better than in the past."

"If you're determined science is what you want to do, you will get there, given time, tenacity and a bit of luck (my advice is gender-neutral - same advice to anyone, it's never been better than it is now and will only get better)."

"Make time and take responsibility for your development and find a good mentor. Ask for help when you need it. Maintain confidence and belief in yourself and your abilities that you are good enough, despite bumpy ups and downs."

"You should be judged on your merits and if you are not, get out and work somewhere else. Find something you are genuinely interested in and find people you are genuinely eager to work with."

On ways that colleagues and mentors have been supportive:

"They have taught me, shared ideas with me, put me in front when the occasion arose, and given me confidence."

"I was very impressed with a manager making a point of trying to understand more about menopause and what I might be going through, but I generally expect support to be based on my individual needs whatever they are, rather than gender specifically."

"The support and guidance I get from my female colleagues at PML has been invaluable. Whether I have been facing the disappointment of a failed grant proposal, a disastrous day at the bench, or having to show up for an important meeting when a small child has kept me up pretty much all night, there is always someone willing and able to offer sympathy and support. It has given me so much pleasure and pride to see their achievements as we have developed our career’s alongside one another."

Final thoughts:

"At the end of the day, we want everyone to be given the opportunity to reach their potential. This needs to start from a young age to make sure equality is provided from the start. Then it will be a case of people being able to follow their chosen career path because it is what they want to do, and are good at it, not because they either have privilege or there are barriers."

"Sometimes the status of where you are on the ladder and how many years you have dedicated to a role becomes the most important thing to some, whereas I actually think its about what you bring, who you are, what you do and how you inspire that matters most."

"So proud of my women/girls in STEM colleagues and that we have a day to celebrate how incredible we are!"