This International Women's Day we hear from Dr Sarah Theissen, Director of Editorial Operations at Hindawi, as she shares advice for young women starting out in their scientific careers.
Having worked in breast cancer research, which attracts a lot of female scientists for obvious reasons, I have had the advantage of working with a lot of confident and successful female scientists that served as role models for me on how to progress in this career and believe in myself.
To young women starting out in their scientific careers, especially in a field that is still lacking gender equity, I think it is crucial that they gain confidence and connect with other women - or in fact supportive men - in the field. This could be via a support system that is made up of peers or by networking at conferences and departmental presentations.
I also think a lot of women suffer from imposter syndrome at times, me included! To those women I say it is important to take a step back, look at your work and realize how valuable and valued you and your contributions are.
Lastly, I would encourage young women to keep an open mind and consider applying their knowledge and skills in areas outside of academia. I worked in cancer research for over a decade before moving into scientific publishing 9 years ago, which is actually a pretty common move. A lot of friends from university have since left academia as well to pursue careers in the pharmaceutical industry and commercialization. Skills acquired during a scientific career - for example analytical reasoning, problem solving, and multi-tasking - can be applied and are sought-after in a range of professions, so do not limit yourself by traditional career paths presented to you.
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