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NanoAnalysis | Blog
International Day of Women and Girls in Science

11th February 2019 | Author: Zoe Jackson

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Science and technology are the driving forces for change in our ever-progressing society. With near enough a global gender ratio of 1:1, there is a disproportionate number of women choosing to build careers in STEM-related fields compared to their male counterparts. In light of this – the United Nations General Assembly declared February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This day allows us to shine a light on the achievements of women and girls in STEM – and what a great opportunity it is to highlight some of the talented women working in science here with us at Oxford Instruments NanoAnalysis.

 

How long have you worked in the scientific industry?

Louise: 19 years.

Hui: 10 years.

Jenny: After finishing my PhD, I worked for as an analytical chemist for several different companies […] I was keen to use the skills and experience I had developed in a more commercial environment.  This ultimately led me to move to Oxford Instruments as an Applications Scientist.   This was a fantastic position combining all my analytical skills, with the opportunity to collaborate with customers on a wide variety of applications.

Cecilia: 7 years, and 4 years of PhD.

 

What first inspired you to get into science?

Jenny: When I was at school, I loved science especially chemistry and physical sciences, which led me to study Geology at University. 

Louise: I had some fantastic science teachers at school. […] I remember one lesson when I was 12. We were going through answers to a biology test and one of the pupils didn’t know what a fern looked like. Simon, the teacher, paused for a second, told us to wait and dashed out of the room. A few minutes later he staggered back in with an enormous plant pot saying, “THIS is a FERN!” Our teachers at school were always enthusiastic about their subjects and this inspired me to do a Biology degree at University. 

Cecilia: I have a big passion for… breaking things. That’s what Mechanical Engineers are very good at.

Hui: My mother is a physics teacher in a secondary school. My own interest in science started when I was around 16.

 

Do you think there are any difficulties you have faced being a woman in science?

Hui: It is not easy to find a good balance between work and family – especially with young children.

Cecilia: At Uni some professors discouraged women from studying to become engineers – mechanical engineers in particular. In the Automotive Industry – where I worked before joining Oxford Instruments – men still dominate managerial positions and there aren’t as many opportunities for women.

Louise: Yes, there have been challenges. Biology is lucky in that there is a good balance of men and women at undergraduate, masters and PhD levels. The problem comes later when the work life balance and the demand to move between several places of study is greatest, just when women tend to require a better work and life balance. I have encountered that with family commitments and being a carer for my mother, something that has impacted upon my career choices. Additionally, sexism and harassment are still present and can manifest themselves in a number of different ways. I have hope that this will improve. Most people are aware of these issues and a working towards change.

Jenny: I personally don’t feel I have faced difficulties as a woman in science.  I have been lucky to travel in my career, ranging from doing field work in the Deccan Traps of India to running demonstrations and meetings in Russia.  Throughout it all I have never felt difficulties being a woman. 

 

Is there any advice you would give to young girls interested in getting into science?

Cecilia: Just do what you like and do not listen to what people say. At some point, you will find a place where you shine.

Hui: Do a job that you’re interested in – not just because of the degree.

Jenny: I don’t know how to answer this one… become an accountant? Follow your dreams?

Louise: Science is a passion that will drive you to explore the universe around us, make new discoveries and expand human knowledge. It is exciting, hard work and at times all encompassing. Follow what you are interested in and you will love your work. You will look forward to each day and I don’t think we can ask for more than that. 

 

Can you give an example of a woman in science that you look up to and why?

Louise: I admire Alice Roberts, not only is she a committed scientist but her work on engaging the public with science has always impressed me.

Cecilia: Some colleagues in my previous company and in Oxford Instruments too, for their strength and their will to succeed.

Hui: Marie Curie. She was the first woman in science that I knew.

Jenny: There are so many inspirational and brilliant scientists, both women and men, that it is difficult to pick one individual.  However, If I have to pick an example it would be Rosalind Franklin for her work on DNA.

Comment below to let us know about all the individuals who have inspired you in your career!

Dr Jenny Goulden
EBSD Business Manager

Dr Louise Hughes
Life Science Product Manager

Dr Cecilia Pisano
Senior Technologist

Dr Hui Jiang
Senior Product Scientist

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