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Faculty of Brain Sciences celebrates Women in Science

11 February 2021

To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February) and International Women's Day (8 March), staff and students from across the Faculty of Brain Sciences discuss what inspires them and what advice they have for women interested in a scientific career.

Postgraduate

Professor Mariya Moosajee from the Institute of Ophthalmology highlights how we can redress the gender imbalance in ophthalmology. She said:

“In order to retain and attract more women into our field, we need to make changes at the top so they know it's not a dead end, and there are equal opportunities in sight. I have seen change over the past few years, but I think there is still a massive amount to do including addressing diversity. 

I would encourage everyone to actively think about who is in your lab or team, who is making decisions, who is representing us on the executive or scientific meetings, then we can continue to make positive changes.”

Professor Tammaryn Lashley from the Queen Square Institute of Neurology offers advice for women interested in a career in science:

“Make contact with scientists, PhD students and post-doctoral scientists and talk to them. Ask them about their jobs, what they do day-to-day. Often the idea and the reality of a job are very different. It may seem daunting to contact scientists and often people won’t reply but at Queen Square Brain Bank we run several work experience workshops for students at different stages and this is a good way to interact with scientists.”

Dr Naaheed Mukadam from the Division of Psychiatry emphasises the importance of universities providing adequate support, while Professor Maria Chait from the Ear Institute emphasises the value of mentors. Professor Mukadam said:

“I hope as a group we can strive for equity and inclusion at all levels within our division through finding ways to ensure fairer recruitment and promotion, improving race/racism training and ensuring sufficient support and resources are available for students and staff from BAME backgrounds.

It’s important to realise that everyone needs support and nobody succeeds on their own so find good sources of support and take time to enjoy life outside academia too.”

Professor Chait said: “Seek out mentors who can inspire and back you. And, I cannot stress enough the importance of networking - with other students in your department/programme and with more senior colleagues in your institution and at conferences. Networking is often something women find more difficult than men but is important both for figuring out the ‘ropes’ in your field, for getting yourself noticed, and for meeting interesting people.”

Professor Essie Viding from the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences comments on how we can avert some of the lasting consequences the pandemic is having on children and young people:

“We need to invest in services, both those that are directly addressing mental health needs, as well as those that are targeted to the basic needs of ensuring that children are safe, warm and fed.

These might include access to therapies via online platforms and facilitated peer support, as well as active social care initiatives aimed at meeting basic needs, which reduce stressors for families. The latter may seem obvious, but it is extraordinary to remember that if it was not for Marcus Rashford, children would have gone hungry during this pandemic.”

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