Blog

Leadership and Culture
February 5, 2021

Advice for aspiring women in science

Written By:
Forum Bhanshali

At Terramera, our incredible lineup of women in science are working to transform agriculture and solve some of the world’s biggest challenges—but the world needs significantly more #WomenInScience to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

February 11th marks the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science where we acknowledge the need to break down limiting gender biases and barriers so we can harness our full potential. Leading up to the day, we are celebrating our inspiring women who show that a meaningful career in science is within reach.

Meet Forum, Research Scientist at our high-throughput lab in Vancouver.

 

Forum Bhanshali, Terramera Scientist

I grew up in rural India, and it sometimes felt like a career in science was beyond grasp. You needed to be determined if you were going to get there.

I had witnessed many of my women friends and classmates avoid pursuing higher studies or careers in science due to the societal pressures to adopt a more comfortable career. Women were, and still are, divided between their personal and professional roles.

“Too often brilliant, talented women slip between the cracks, not given the tools and coaching they need to navigate their scientific career forward.” 

This was challenging at times especially for me as a young scientist. It felt lonely and discouraging.

Over the last 15 years as a woman in STEM, I have been lucky to have worked with incredible women from diverse backgrounds and cultures, including our Chief Scientific Officer, Annett Rozek, who exemplifies that anything is possible if you follow your passion. I have realized that success is not just based on the difference in formal training, but from different life experiences. 

Important messages for aspiring women in science

I use my distinct life experiences to inform my favourite parts of my work as a scientist—discovery, teamwork and mentoring junior scientists. Here are three important messages I have for other early-career women scientists:

1.      Don’t be afraid to be a risk-taker or present your opinion even when you are the only woman in a meeting or a conference. Reach for things beyond your grasp.

2.      Scientific progress is built on failure. It is important to not be discouraged as each failure teaches us to move forward in the way we address the experiment the next time. I call it failing forward. Failure has taught me two of my biggest life skills which have been life-saving in and outside the lab—persistence and resilience.

3.      Advocate for other female scientists and their needs.

Forum Bhanshali working with one of the world's most powerful liquid handling robots at our high-throughput lab in Vancouver.

Women as leaders in science

Science and technology are influential forces in our society, which means that those with the skills and positions to steer those forces hold substantial power. It is comforting to see that women are increasingly in decision-making positions, however, we need to see more women in leadership roles to see real progress.

Women in leadership have the power to motivate and encourage other women to keep going and follow their passions.  I carry the responsibility to be inclusive, affirming, and inspiring.

Join the conversation with #WomenInScience

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