The women at the Centre for Gene Therapy & Regenerative Medicine have lent their voices and faces to the discussion as part of the Women in Science photography project with photographer Fanny Beckman. The series depicts the everyday working lives of the women behind the statistics, capturing an interest, joy, and confidence in their work that is often missing from discussions of women in science. The written stories which accompany the photos cover the hardships they have faced in their careers – looming imposter syndrome and workplace discrimination – but more often focus on their successes and highlight the support systems that have made their experiences positive, support systems that should be available to all women.
Time and time again, these stories herald the women who have acted as role models to them, “I have had strong female role models throughout my science career as all my supervisors to date have been very successful women. I believe these women inspired me to be the scientist I am today,” Dr Christina Philippeos, a postdoctoral researcher, writes, “Although a great gender disparity exists in science, I feel fortunate to be a woman in science today.” But Philippeos also discusses the difficulty of balancing new motherhood and a demanding academic career where support is not always provided, “The lack of job security is concerning when you have a family to support. It was only recently, in becoming a mother myself, that this resonated with me.”
Photographer Fanny Beckman, previous winner of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers, is familiar with using art to raise awareness of social injustice. Her previous exhibitions explore challenging topics such as domestic abuse and mental health. This experience represented something new to her. "I had the opportunity to visit science labs for the first time and met some of the incredible women working at Centre for Gene Therapy & Regenerative Medicine,” Beckman writes, “As a photographer, I work within a male-dominated field myself and this project sparked many interesting conversations regarding breaking gender bias and pursuing your dream career.” Just as the subjects of her photography spoke of their own role models, Beckman highlights the importance of good representation and female role models that this project hopes to provide, “These photos prove that it is, beyond doubt, possible to not only start a career as a woman scientist but also to climb the ladder. If you can see it, you can be it, and "Women in Science" provides representation for the next generation of scientists."