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Women in Science

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Video clip: Carolyn finds research fascinating and enjoys meeting people involved. She also points out that an academic career is more ‘child friendly’ than a career in industry because the hours are more flexible.

Have you got any messages for women who are thinking of a career in science?

Do it. I mean I just, I love doing science. I love the, it’s interesting actually because it’s a very interactive world. If you are, well unless you end up in a very small research group in which case you’d be, you could quite lonely. But if you were in a reasonable sized research group it’s very interactive and working with people, collaborating with people, the sort of things women are really good at, and it’s just, I just find it a fascinating life.

And it’s also, academic research, apart from the whole nursery issue is actually much more child friendly because you don’t clock in and out of work, you work your own hours, nobody is there sort of saying, ‘Hang on a minute, you’re ten minutes late this morning.’ I had a colleague when I was at Synaptica and she’d worked in industry all the time, and she worked at Synaptica and she was quite scathing about academic research, and then when Synaptica went bust she got a job with Cancer Research people up at the hospital and I met her for coffee about a year later and she said, ‘This is amazing. I had never realised how much easier it is to be a parent in an academic lab than it is in industry.’ Because if your child is ill you just say, ‘Child’s ill, going home.’ Nobody cares, nobody not, docs that off your timesheet. Everybody trusts you to then make it up, you know your work that evening, at home on your computer or whatever, and if you don’t the person who loses out is you basically, it’s not anybody else. So you do do it.

And I saw a, a lecture about women in science the other day and this person was saying she had never missed any of her children’s school plays, or sports days or anything like that because she’d just taken that afternoon off. Which you can’t do in industry if you’ve got, you know you get 25 days a year off or whatever, then you can’t use them for your children’s school play. So there are actually a lot of advantages of academic research as well as the fact that it’s quite a hard world to be in.