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  • Natasha Harvey

Why we need more women in science !

It’s International Day of Women & Girls in Science today and a great opportunity to celebrate an amazing female scientist, coach and trainer close to me – one of my nearest and dearest friends, Dr Christine Grew MBA.

Christine and I sat next to each other on our first day at secondary school over 30 years ago and have been best friends ever since. We’ve recently combined forces to help support women in rising to leadership roles, and co-facilitate the Embrace Your Change group coaching and training sessions.

Kicking off her career in science with a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Bristol, Christine has spent twenty years supporting the development of new medicines, working for small & large pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations. She’s built and led global teams as a Director of Regulatory Affairs, navigating regulatory pathways for clinical trials for big pharma. She currently works as an independent regulatory affairs consultant as well as joining me on a regular basis to deliver exciting group coaching programmes for our fantastic clients.

I asked Christine to reflect on International Day of Women & Girls in Science and answer a few questions.

Why is it important to have more women in Science Technology Engineering & Maths (STEM) careers?

Because we need more Marie Curie's, Ada Lovelace's and Dame Sarah Gilbert's in our lives! We need the greatest brains to address tough health care challenges. And diversity of groups, be it gender, ethnicity, social demographic etc are higher performing than homogenous groups as they tend to have diversity of thought. Also, who wouldn't want to contribute to something bigger than themselves & literally impact people's lives, people who could be your friends and family!

What have you gained from having a career in science?

I've worked in a variety of therapy areas including oncology, immunology and infectious disease and it's very rewarding to be working towards something that helps others. For the most part, I've thoroughly enjoyed my career to date, working with interesting and passionate colleagues with a shared higher purpose of benefiting patients. Of course, it's also reassuring to be in a profession which is 'in demand' with a strong market value and often can be flexed around a realistic work life balance.

What has been your experience of gender inequality at work?

During my undergraduate degree in chemistry, I didn't especially notice being in a slight gender minority but it was more obvious during my PhD, and was certainly the case looking across the University's teaching faculty. Women made up just 10% of our business school cohort at Imperial College (2015-2017) and I think it's interesting to ask why this is, and what the impact on leadership diversity in the workplace might be as a result of it.

Girls at school and school leavers appear to have the same options as boys to study STEM subjects in higher education so it's good to question why the gender discrepancy starts at school, and ensure that all students understand the fantastic and diverse job opportunities and doors which open as a result of having a STEM background. A science degree doesn't necessarily result in a white coat and safety goggles! My friends who studied STEM subjects now work across a plethora of sectors as entrepreneurs, medical doctors, lawyers, financial executives and business owners.

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