Today, 11 February 2017, is International Day of Women and Girls in Science – an opportunity for all to take a stand for full and equal access to, and participation of, girls and women in science. The United Nations report that girls continue to face stereotypes and social and cultural restrictions, limiting access to education and funding for research, preventing them from scientific careers and reaching their full potential. Because of this, women remain a minority in science research. But the world needs science and science needs women.
JDRF is proud to support some very talented female researchers, and nurture their ingenuity and innovation. One of whom is A/Prof Liz Davis – and she’s making huge strides in the field of type 1 diabetes research, which will one day lead to people with type 1 diabetes living better and healthier lives. To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and raise the profile of the talented women working in the field of type 1 diabetes research, we chatted to A/Prof Davis, a Paediatric Endocrinologist and Director, Diabetes and Obesity Services, at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth.
Hi Liz, in a nutshell, tell us about your current research project?
I am currently involved in a number of clinical and translational research projects with the overarching theme of improving the lives of children with type 1 diabetes. More specifically, with the aim of improving glucose control in young people with T1D with a focus on exercise, food and technology.
What inspired you to choose a career in research?
I was very fortunate that in one of my rotations as a junior doctor, I was attached to a team (endocrine of course!) with a strong research focus. I was given the opportunity to be involved in two research projects designed to answer clinical gaps in care, and just loved it, and one thing led to another…
Do you have a favourite part of your job?
The favourite part of my job is that I get to do so many different things: patient care and clinical service development, research study design, analysis, advocacy, mentoring – never a dull moment! I get a lot of satisfaction seeing the outcomes of our studies improving clinical care.
What has been your career highlight so far?
That is a tough one… The awarding of the National Health and Medical Research Council/JDRF-funded Centre of Research Excellence to our team was a really special moment, because it not only validated the work we are doing, but more importantly it gives our team the extra support we need to focus on our research and translating our findings.
What advice would you give to other aspiring young female scientists?
Have fun; have confidence. You have a lot to offer, and where possible, align with teams and other researchers that have similar values. No-one will say a career in research is easy, but it can be a lot of fun, you will make some great friends and you can make a difference to people’s lives.
Most senior researchers are keen to support and really value the potential of young scientists, so don’t be backwards in coming forward! I am probably not the best person to answer this because I am not good at saying ‘no’, and you do need to ensure you keep a healthy life-work balance. Mentoring from your senior colleagues can help with some of the decision-making about your career path.
Thanks Liz! We hope to see the next generation of budding female scientists following in your footsteps!