International Day of Women and Girls in Science

By · 11 February, 2017 · Features

February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. So we sat down with some of our volunteers working and studying in the field: read on to hear about their love of science and the experiences that led them there.

Sarah Sutcliffe, 21, QLD – Marine Biology

I have just finished my bachelor’s in Advanced Marine Biology. This year I will be writing an Honours thesis on the application of the UN FAO guidelines for sustainable small scale fisheries Melanesia. I’ve always loved science in its own right, and the ocean has always been a major part of my life, so marine biology was an obvious choice.
Science isn’t just the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, though there is value in that. Science can be used to improve the lives of everyday people. I love being a marine biologist because I can learn about some of the most extraordinary natural systems on earth, and then use that knowledge to both protect the environment and improve the livelihoods of people in coastal communities in the developing world.

Zoe Stawyskyj, 20, NSW – Advanced Science

Advanced science may not sound like the degree that lends itself to being passionate about UN Youth but, for me, they stem from the same place. When I was in primary school, I found a quote: it was about doing things to better society but, more than that, it was doing that in a way where your contribution is the most you can make it.

Despite this being influential in my life choices, I’ve never found the quote again. But the message stayed with me. I want to give as much as I can to the world. One of the ways I think I’m able to do this is through becoming a medical research scientist… and then mix in a bit of policy and advocating.

For me, the issue that will bring all this together is mental health. Scientific knowledge and society’s treatment of these issues is behind the times. It is my hope that through my studies I can make change for mental health treatment and social culture. Science isn’t a thing that I think of as different to the work I do in UN Youth. It isn’t in a bubble of fact. It’s how I want to make my mark on the world.

Frances Harvey, 22, WA – Arachnology

I’ve lived my whole life surrounded by science, both my parents have PhDs, one in psychology and the other in arachnology. From a very early age I was taken along on field trips with my dad to collect spiders and other arachnids (he’s the worlds leading expert in a tiny animal called a pseudoscorpion).

When I was 14 I was lucky enough to work with him as my mentor on a project for an international science competition. I spent weekends in a lab over three months on a group of trapdoor spiders in the Pilbara region of WA and ended up discovering 4 species of spiders. The scientific paper that my research was featured in was published when I was 17 – I found out at my UN Youth National Conference!

I no longer pursue science as my primary focus, but I don’t think that means you can’t have an interest in science, it will always fascinate me and be a part of my life. Science fundamentally tells us how the world works and whilst we don’t know everything yet, I’m so excited for the amazing discoveries future generations will uncover.

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