The gender disparity between men and women studying, researching or working in science-related jobs is not new news. Each year as International Women’s Day approaches, we hope to prove that this gap is lessening. We hope that stronger legislations can inspire the next wave of scientists to be part of a more balanced ratio of men:women. After all, a balanced world is a better world.
Whilst these statistics are useful in analysing the key issues within STEM fields, they can also be disheartening to women aspiring to enter this sector. So, what better way to boost morale than to turn to someone who has already been in the industry for years and for them to act as mentor to the future generation of female leaders?
Veterinary is one STEM subject where women are thriving already: according to 2014 statistics, there is a higher proportion of female veterinary surgeons (57%) than male surgeons (43%). Whilst other research suggests there are still substantially less women in leadership roles, the introduction of potential strategies – including awareness training and increasing work flexibility – may invite more successful female leaders into this profession.
This week, Vet and academic lecturer Laura Kidd delves further into what’s changed since she was studying Veterinary and about her experience in the profession.
Could you tell me a bit about your course/career/route into science?
I always enjoyed science at school and was good at it, especially chemistry which I loved! I toyed with the idea of doing pharmacology although I didn’t know what it was.
After attending an open day at the University of Glasgow I became interested in the idea of being a vet – and the rest is history. (My headmistress told me I should apply for medicine but I decided to be a rebel and follow my heart!)
I loved my time at vet school and working in practice – and despite a very unplanned route into teaching / academia I have thoroughly enjoyed this and the opportunities it has brought me.
How do you think the stereotype of women working in sciences has changed since you were studying it?
I think the stereotype of women working in sciences has shifted significantly from the slightly ferocious, unfeminine scientist wearing a lab coat and glasses (think Miss Trunchbull in Matilda!) that is sometimes portrayed. I cannot think of any woman in science who fit this stereotype.
However, even from when I started to study veterinary medicine, many years ago, I have, never knowingly, been exposed to anyone that believes there is a stereotypical image of a woman scientist.
As a vet with a daughter studying medicine, what changes do you hope to see for women working in science going forward?
I think that individuals should be recognised for their personal attributes, qualifications and talents and encouraged to aim as high as they can, if that is what they truly want to do. I do believe that this is possible and feel very optimistic – the opportunities are there.
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