Royce material scientists share their career journeys on International Women’s Day

Earlier this month, a celebration of International Women’s Day took place in the Royce Hub, with a career panel highlighting the achievements of women in Material Science and Engineering! 

Dr Niamh Fox from the University Of Manchester Department of Materials moderated the panel featuring speakers from diverse roles, career stages, and across materials science research areas, who were generous in sharing their career paths and experiences.

The discussion was prefaced by an introduction around the importance of creating an inclusive environment from Dr Helen Ryder, Royce Research and Facilities Manager and Co-Chair of the Royce EDI Committee.

The discussion that followed really showcased the diverse opportunities within Material Science and Engineering and the event saw open and honest discussion amongst the audience and panellists which included the Department of Material’s Julie Gough, Professor of Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering; Dr Beatriz Mingo Senior Lecturer and Royal Academy of Engineering Fellow and Dr Rachel Saunders Senior Experimental Officer as well as Dr Sarah-Jane Clelland, Senior Facilities Manager at Royce.

The panel were unanimous in their view that materials science as a career offers incredible variety – and that it’s not always a linear career journey, with multidisciplinarity at its heart.

Rachel talked about the importance of finding your own mentors, and of having role models – she also talked about her experience of pursuing the technical route, rather than the academic route. The good news is that the Technical Professional route is now gaining a lot more encouragement and support from institutions.  Of note was her comment on materials related to pretty much every part of the human body!

All the panellists talked about their experience of being the only woman in the room and the perils of imposter syndrome was noted; Julie reflected on this and on the importance of promoting careers in materials science to the younger generation, something she does herself.

Sarah- Jane rounded up the discussion on the importance of being an active-bystander – which is about being aware of when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate and choosing to challenge it. Such inappropriate behaviours can contribute to a culture that perpetuates stereotypes.

Developing resilience was also discussed – as well as taking full control of your own destiny. Beatriz illustrated the importance of this in her own career – telling the audience the story of how self-reliance paid off. No one else can take action for you!

The Panel Discussion finished with a beautiful poem from Nagu Sathappan celebrating International Women’s Day and all the many roles women play in all of our lives!

The event was organised by Dr Alice La Porta, Royce’s Outreach Officer and she said:

“We’re so grateful to all the panellists for being not only inspirational, but open and honest about the challenges and opportunities of pursuing a career in materials science.

“It was very heartening to bring the audience together and also to have a lovey networking lunch on a special day of celebration. And Nagu’s poem was very touching too.  I look forward to the next get together!”