Every year on February 11th, the scientific community celebrates the contributions of women to science and innovation, and aims to break down persistent gender barriers. So today, we focus on the efforts of female scientists in our community and say thank you to Makrina, Sibylle, Farkhanda and Deborah, who shared their perspectives on this important day.
Happy Int'l Day of Women in Science!
Today, the world and its scientific community celebrate women in science. We are proud to have engaged scientists who want to make an impact in society as members of our community.
We asked our currently funded AlumNode project leaders Makrina, Farkhanda, Deborah and Sibylle about their personal experience, strategies of women in the scientific system and tips on how to work in an interdisciplinary team!
1. What are your tips for being successful as a woman in science?
Makrina: “My tips for being successful are to believe in your potential, work as hard as possible and never give up no matter what are the challenges that you are facing.”
Sibylle: “Never lose your sense of humor. It's your best weapon and your suit of armor.”
2. Which challenges have you faced as a woman in science? Any tips on how to keep going?
Makrina: “One of the biggest challenges I have faced is to get invited as a speaker at conferences. It seems that organizers tend to automatically invite their male colleagues although they know female colleagues who are great scientists and excellent presenters.”
Sibylle: “If you hear something that unsettles you, pause to ask yourself if that person would have said the same thing to a man. If the answer is no, challenge them. I always assumed that I had to choose between family and career. I cannot remember who told me this. As a mother of twins I would say what is possible depends on how flexible/creative you really are and who you are with.”
Farkhanda: “The social taboo of women being only in teaching and medicines in Pakistan is the biggest challenge that I have faced. The gender discrimination in developing countries is a big hindrance in the growth of women in the field of science and technology.”
3. What is your personal experience with interdisciplinary collaborations?
Makrina: “I have always worked together with scientists from different scientific areas such as physicists, computer scientists, chemists. But this is my first time working with sciences like architecture and literature and it is fascinating.”
Sibylle: “I get bored if I only do one thing. I have always talked to people and asked them questions to better understand what there is to know. I just have to go and look and ask. As a researcher I am prepared to talk to absolutely everybody. Learning from and with other people is one of the greatest privileges in life.”
4. How do you manage to work on projects while being a full-time researcher? Any tips on time management?
Makrina: “It is true that being a full-time researcher requires a lot of time and energy. Working on projects at the same time is a bit tricky. But there are ways to manage both, of course, if you really like the projects.
My tip would be to fix a day/time that you want to dedicate to these projects because if you just wait to finish all the things that you have to do for your research, it will be almost impossible. There is always a new deadline coming up, so giving a specific time and day to the other projects is of crucial importance.”
- “I always do what I love first and I keep list with the things that I have to do and do reluctantly.
- I get up early and start my day with the things I want to do so that when the day starts, I am in a good mood.
- I always ask myself: what will stay and what is fun? Thinking and writing is fun.
I noticed in colleagues who complain a lot about their workload that they could do what they moan about in the time they moan. There are things that we cannot change. My top tip is to hide ‐ hide where nobody can find you.”
Deborah: “Time management it’s an important area that any successful researcher will have to develop. I share these tips that help me manage my projects while being a full time researcher:
- Write out clearly all task and responsibilities.
- Prioritize the laid down task and identify which needs to be done first.
- Both project and research goals should be broken down to smaller and manageable pieces.
- Dedicate time to complete each of these small task.”
Farkhanda: “Time management is a key to keep balance between work and other academic activities. I have reserved one hour per day to work on projects other than my research work. I prefer working in a team. I have made a team based on common interests. This way we divide the responsibilities and easily reach the goal in time.”
Last but not least: What needs to be done to excite young women to pursue a career in science (and STEM)?
Farkhanda: “We can create outreach opportunities to promote a growth mind-set that empower girls to embrace challenges. Besides, strong linkages and networks may be provided to spread awareness and support girls for joining the field of science.”
Are you a fan of women in science or interested in related topics? Join our exklusive AlumNode group on Women in Science now (AlumNode members only):
Stay tuned on LinkedIn and on AlumNode to see what moves the community.