ARA-W Fellow Post: INSPIRED...TO ASPIRE
While more women are engaged in the study of chemistry than ever before, a survey by the American Chemical Society explains the inverse relationship to their advancement in the field despite the improved professional climate. One common explanation to the observed is the difficulty in balancing career demands and family needs. Interestingly, some women had to choose between the two. As a young female chemist, I am particularly excited and encouraged by Prof. Frances Arnold who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on directed evolution to engineer enzymes. After reading about her education, personal life and career, I realized that despite the challenges, it is possible for women to advance in academia.
Although under-represented, women are making significant contributions to science, even from the earliest times when clearly-defined gender meant they were limited. Communities have been established to provide opportunities for women to contribute to scholarly research, and with the help of these empowerment programs, women continue to experience great advances in science and technology.
As someone who continues to benefit from one of such organizations, I would love to say a very big THANK YOU to the African Research Academies for Women. The defining moment in my education and career aspiration was undertaking the 8-weeks internship at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Legon-Ghana as a summer intern. Although challenging, this exposed me to the stark realities of scientific research and I gained more insight into professional practice and how to develop as an independent researcher. The internship helped me identify some of my strengths and weaknesses and this helped me define the skills I had to improve on, especially how to enhance my communication and networking skills which are key in the scientific community. I also gained soft skills like self-confidence, flexibility and the ability to learn from criticism. These skills continue to be valuable in my academic career. Opting to serve as a volunteer for the Academy has helped widen my personality horizon - becoming more open- minded in life. I have been inspired to aspire and as such I look forward to attending graduate school next fall to continue my development.