Diane Turner – Owner & Senior Consultant, Anthias Consulting Ltd.
I started Anthias Consulting in 2005, people were quite sceptical as I was a female under the age of 30 starting a scientific consultancy business!
I studied at the University of Warwick obtaining a BSc(Hons) in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry and received the Andrew McCamley prize for the best final year research project. After a year in industry, I returned to complete a Masters degree in Instrumental and Analytical Methods in Biological and Environmental Chemistry (Pharmaceutical analysis) where I was the only student to get an external 6 month project working at Zeneca Agrochemicals at Jealott’s Hill. At the end of which I had two job offers, to stay at Zeneca or move to ATAS in Cambridge to build an applications laboratory to support the sales of their products in gas chromatography.
With this great opportunity, I of course did the latter and developed that side of the business performing instrument demonstrations, developing applications and training customers. I was there for over 5 years and left to survey coral reefs for a couple of months in Fiji.
Cambridge AWiSE Steering Group Member – DR TENNIE VIDELER
I am the coordinator for the Cambridge Immunology Network. The idea is that there is lots of great immunology being done in disparate parts of Cambridge University and it is my task to increase communication between them. This position is a challenge to take on, especially as I am not an immunologist…
I did an undergraduate degree in Chemistry in the Netherlands. I got the opportunity to spend nine months in the UK as an exchange student, which resulted in starting a PhD research project on the interface between chemistry and biology. I spent 16 years doing research on structural biology, using different techniques on different systems. I have always enjoyed public engagement, communicating science (not necessarily mine) to both children and adults. I was the science school governor for a primary school for six years, a role I would encourage others to take on!
Towards the end of my postdoctoral career I decided that although I loved research I wanted to use my ‘people’ skills and do something that would make a difference to people’s lives. I became a programme manager for Vitae, a national careers organisation specialising in careers and development of researchers. It was very rewarding but I am very pleased my current role allows me to indulge in my passion for science again. I am on a steep learning curve- who knew Immunology was so complicated… and so fascinating?
Carol Robinson, a professor in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge who recently moved to University of Oxford wrote an article about the dearth of women at the top of Chemistry.
Carol Robinson describes herself as “the first female chemistry professor at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, which have a combined history in chemistry of about 800 years”, which in itself is quite telling of the nature of the chemical sciences and it explains why she frequently gets asked why so many women leave chemistry at an early stage of their career. In chemistry, the attrition rate from PhD students (46% women) to professorships (6% women) is even bigger than in other traditionally male fields such as engineering and physics.
Carol did not have a traditional academic career. She left school to work in an industrial lab at 16 and eventually working her way through night-school to a point where she could start a PhD. After her PhD she took 8 years off to have her three children during a career break and then came back to a career in science. “Admittedly, after my eight-year absence, it was hard to find a position in science. I had three interviews before convincing a panel that I was committed (one interviewer remembered me positively from my student days).”
She talks about the pros and cons of being interested in dressing well and shoes as a woman in chemistry- and argues that women should not loose their femininity: “By behaving or dressing as honorary men, we only reinforce the macho culture of chemistry”.