BSAS Blog – Women In Science

The inaugural ‘Women in Science’ BSAS webinar took place recently. Over 60 members attended (there were a few men in the audience who were very welcome) to hear from women who represented both academia and industry at various stages of their career. While I had the honour of Chairing the webinar, I knew that it would be easy since all our ladies were very open and honest and keen to have a conversation which encouraged and supported all our BSAS members.

The webinar started with the hugely inspirational Minette Batters. As the current president of the NFU, Minette’s key message was to be happy and do what you needed to do to ‘keep yourself’ right. For Minette, who is mother to twins as well as being heavily involved in her home farm, that included running and being very focused on what she eats, which she admitted she only learnt how to manage better more recently.

‘Being happy’ and ‘looking after yourself’ emerged as a key theme as Jude Capper from Harper Adams, encouraged us with her story of overcoming cancer twice and not being afraid to push the door and make changes when you feel you need to.

Anna Dinsdale, from Premier Nutrition, was one of our early career representatives, Anna talked passionately about her work and career path to date. It transpired that Anna and I, probably like many others, are in the ‘didn’t get the grades for veterinary but turns out we are very happy in our jobs as a result of finding other very fulfilling degree pathways’ club.

I am also in agreement with Laura Boyle whose honesty shone through when she described that for many women, there are tradeoffs while trying to progress your career and be a mother. Laura reminded us that women are natural nurturers and while we should always embrace that role in the family, it can come at a cost to mental health and/or career progression. So again – being happy and keeping yourself right was the key message.

Lyndsay Chapman, who until recently was the chief executive of CIEL, was our final speaker in the webinar. Through providing us with her very varied career history, Lyndsay encouraged us to not be afraid of taking on new challenges. Lyndsay highlighted there is evidence that women often think they have to meet all the criteria specified for a role, but that isn’t the case and it’s rare for employers to get candidates who are the perfect fit. So Lyndsay’s key message was ‘give it a go if you fancy the challenge’.

This non-science BSAS member event was designed to provide an environment for BSAS members to come together as a community of support and mentoring. We are delighted that this friendly and supportive ethos came through strongly.

As BSAS members we are here to help each other, perhaps when it is a bit more difficult to find that help and support within the workplace for whatever reason. As such, for both our male and female members, the overall concluding messages were to reach out to fellow BSAS members for support and mentoring, no matter how junior or senior you are, and don’t have imposter syndrome - we are all just human and have, very likely, been through similar challenges.

By Elizabeth Magowan, President, The British Society of Animal Science