Celebrating International Women’s Day 2021
International Women’s Day 2021 aims at raising awareness on gender equality in our society at a time when the search for scientific breakthroughs for humanity and the search for equality, diversity and collaboration in science has never been more important. It is an opportunity to celebrate the resourcefulness, determination and resilience of all women who contribute to advancing science and those who inspire the future science heroes by showing what every girl and woman is capable of achieving.
On this occasion, Saeeda, Senior Scientist Technology Development at Abcam shares her story on the importance of having a mentor, as a woman in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), then becoming one to inspire change.
I fell in love with Science when I was at University. I was training to become a Pharmacist whilst the rest of my friends picked a career in Medicine or Dentistry. It is quite typical of many young Asian girls to choose a respectable job (which is often influenced by the family). However, something else sparked my interest; SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was hitting the news which introduced me to the fascinating world of microbiology and infectious diseases. I couldn’t get it out of my head, I was focused and determined, so I made the decision to leave Pharmacy and I forged my way to secure a great PhD in Science.
A few years later, I joined Abcam where it was an obvious choice for me to volunteer as a mentor for In2Science, a programme that empowers young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their potential in STEM. What this experience has taught me is appreciation and awareness. If a programme like this existed when I was choosing my A-levels, I believe I would not have followed the Pharmacy route. Back then, it wasn’t clear to me what a career in science was. This is something that resonates with the students I have spoken to during my time as a mentor. Last year, I remember speaking to a young girl who was torn between what she really wanted to study and what her parents wished for her. We spoke about my experience, and it was a deeply engaging conversation in which this student learnt some things about herself. It was a very rewarding experience.
I am convinced that having strong and successful women role models can massively influence individuals even without them realising it. Today, I consider myself very fortunate to have been given the time from someone who was willing to show me how far I could go, simply because they cared to see