For International Women’s Day, Dr Anna Ludi reflects on how small acts to support women in science can empower them to take their careers to the next level.
According to the International Women’s Day committee this is a day that “marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality”. Sitting here in our high containment laboratories with a career that I enjoy and having the support that I need, got me thinking about what I am doing to create a gender equal world.
The first thought that comes to mind is my mentorship with Zahra, who I met during a training workshop in Pakistan. Her drive and determination were visible straight away and our mentorship naturally fell into place. Question after question of what needed to be done to set-up a particular assay in their lab were very much welcome during what would have otherwise been a boring monologue of presentation. Her enthusiasm for the assay was catching and I was soon brought back to my PhD days.
The questions never really stopped and we were soon chatting on a regular basis, not only about the assay but her Masters project in general. Then one day out of the blue she told me that she was coming to the UK; she had won a scholarship to attend a conference. Could she stop by The Pirbright Institute and see the assay being done?
She was soon on her way and joined my team for a couple of days to learn the assay. Although it was a brief visit Abid Bin-Tarif, my colleague in the World Reference Laboratory for Foot-and-Mouth Disease (WRLFMD), gave her the tools she needed to take the assay home and soon we were receiving results! The reward that we got from seeing the impact our training and mentorship was making can’t be put into words, but I think it was evident that day when we all walked around with a big smile.
Since then the mentorship has expanded and we regularly talk about her career goals, including how she will get a PhD and one day pass on her knowledge to other students.
So why am I writing all this? I guess because I feel that we can all do our parts in some way… I don’t think empowering women needs to be done through a formal or a large initiative but perhaps instead it can just be giving that little bit of encouragement that is often so needed.
How will you help forge a gender equal world?
Hafza Zahira Manzoor, a PhD Scholar from University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan who goes by the name of Zahra, provides her testament to the mentorship.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, I would like to share my thoughts about my experiences with Dr Anna Ludi in Pakistan and at The Pirbright Institute.
I still can recall my first meeting with my mentor Dr Ludi at my university during a training workshop. Dr Ludi helped me a lot in understanding the queries and problems I was facing in my Masters research. The chapter of mentorship was not closed in 2018 in Pakistan but we remained connected via emails and Dr Ludi continued to help me in solving research problems and providing international scholarship opportunities.
As a female from a Lower Middle Income country I find myself blessed to receive this support, which has helped me broaden my research views, practical skills and my exposure to the foreign world. My words are not enough to say thanks to Dr Ludi and her team for helping me out in every situation.