Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science
This Sunday (11th February 2024) marks the ninth International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Despite women having made significant global contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across history to the present day, gender-inequality persists.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science addresses the gender imbalance by highlighting, uplifting and empowering women in the industry. In recognition of the day, we spoke to some of the fantastic women in STEM on our campus to find out about their experience, achievements and advice to women and girls looking to embark on a career in science.
Sarah Hasnip, Head of Fera Science’s Proficiency Testing Business Unit, Fapas®
What does your job entail, and how did you get where you are today?
“At Fapas®, we help to make sure labs all over the world are correctly testing food and water to ensure it’s good quality, contains the right nutritional value, and above all, is safe for us as consumers. My job is to make sure all of that keeps running smoothly.
“I always wanted to work in science, specifically science that makes a difference to people’s everyday lives. My route was to do a degree and then a PhD, joining Fera early in my career. Fera covers such a breadth of science from the biology of the invasive Asian Hornet to the chemical safety of insect protein for the food chain. There’s always something new and innovative to stimulate my interest and provide a rewarding challenge.”
What do you love most about working in science?
“The most exciting thing is working with a talented group of people each with their own specialist skills, with a common purpose to really make a difference to the world. And no matter how long you work in science, or how many qualifications you have, there’s always something new and interesting to learn. For me there’s nothing that’s as much fun as sharing your science with people, whether that’s standing up at an international conference or at home around the dinner table.”
What’s your advice to young women and girls wanting to get into the industry?
“Simply, always believe in yourself. I have been incredibly fortunate to always be surrounded by people who have believed in me, but in the end it’s down to you to put yourself out there. There have been so many great women in science and there will continue to be even more great women in science in the future – there’s no reason you can’t be one of them!”
Bethan Warren, Lead Application Scientist, Cargill Bioindustrial
Tell us a bit about your job?
“I help coordinate and prioritise work across a team developing lubricants for automotive and industrial applications. I research how fluids will be different for electric vehicles, compared to combustion vehicles. I also help with maintaining our health and safety standards within the lab, whether that’s carrying out inspections or writing new procedures.
“Science encompasses so much of our lives, yet I don’t think we ever get a good appreciation of that. I work with colleagues who research how we can increase crop yields, others who are trying to figure out how we can sustainably source raw materials for products from shampoo to engine oils, to others who investigate the best types of wax for making candles burn longer or retain more scent. Every week I am surprised by how much science goes into things we don’t even think about!”
What initially attracted you to a career in science?
“I’ve always loved puzzles and understanding how things work. During my A-levels I considered studying engineering, but I had a supportive chemistry teacher who encouraged me to study chemistry at university and I’m so glad I did. I studied Chemistry with a year in industry at York university, gaining my Masters, followed by a PhD at Leeds (in the Mechanical Engineering department) researching how additives in gearboxes interact with copper surfaces.”
What’s your biggest career highlight?
“Last year we relocated our lab and office to York Biotech Campus. I helped to design the new lab, ensuring we had the right gas lines, extraction, and number of plugs! It was such a unique experience and one I imagine only happens once in a career.”
Kirstie Johnston, Biopharmaceutical CMC Solutions Operations Manager, Labcorp
Can you share with us a bit about your job role?
“I am responsible for the health, wellbeing and development of the team on site and the work carried out on behalf of our clients including to ensure the laboratory spaces and equipment meet the regulatory standards of the industry. There is a team of 45 people working in various roles on site and it’s this teamwork in all areas and our wider network that makes us successful.”
What do you love most about working in science?
“I have always asked lots of questions and found science interesting and that is why I chose the scientific industry for my career. There is a sense of purpose in what Labcorp does; we support our clients in their journey to deliver medicines to patients. It’s a good feeling to know a medicine was successful for patients when you’ve worked on that project.”
What’s your advice to women and girls wanting to get into the industry?
“To anyone wanting to get in the industry, I would advise to review careers sites, like Labcorp’s. Explore the wide range of careers available and pursue educational opportunities that will help prepare you for any that interest you. Hopefully you will be successful, but if not initially, persevere and be tenacious and I’m sure you will find the right role as there are so many, with different routes to take.”
Learn about some of the other inspirational women on campus: https://yorkbiotechcampus.com/celebrating-women-in-science/