Dr. Keyhani Reflects on International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Opinion | A Day to Celebrate, and a Call to Action
Dr. Anahita Keyhani, Senior Director, Scientific Operations, Mass Spectrometry and Method Development, joined Altasciences in May 2015. She leads a team of over 60 bioanalytical experts dedicated to regulated bioanalytical method development, validation, and sample analysis, from preclinical to Phase IV. In addition to her role as a scientific and client relationship manager, she actively trains, coaches, and mentors scientists from cross-functional departments throughout Altasciences. In this op-ed, Dr. Keyhani reflects on International Day of Women and Science, and how we, as a global community, can work toward gender parity in the scientific field.
As a mother, scientist, leader, and immigrant, it is an honor to be included in Altasciences’ celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We live in a time when, around the world, more and more women have access to technology, such as social media and satellite TV, that allows them to see how other women are living—and importantly, how women are succeeding. Women in leadership positions now have the opportunity to share their knowledge in order to help elevate those who might not have support from local sources. In turn, those women see others from their own cultures succeeding, and they’re able to envision themselves doing the same. Representation matters. One of the challenges I’ve noticed that women in the workplace have in common, regardless of industry, expertise, or level of accomplishment, is how to communicate and advocate for themselves and their teams within organizational hierarchies. The unprecedented access to knowledge and technology has facilitated our ability to share our experiences in a variety of ways. These evolving means of communication provide women with knowledge and vision, and more than ever, we can empower others and be empowered to define our own success.
SCIENCE IS AN OPPORTUNITY
Knowledge is something you take with you wherever you go. Science is international and has no borders. A career in science often is seen as a path of opportunity—it was for me. Those of us who have achieved success in science should use our connections and platforms to share lessons we’ve learned and encourage the journey of others. There are so many opportunities to grow in life sciences and build a rewarding career. Here at Altasciences, and through my membership and participation in Women In Bio and American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), I love talking to, motivating, training, and empowering younger people in science. I’m proud to say that right now, our bioanalytical laboratory has at least seven employees in graduate school part-time. It’s both our duty and privilege as women in science to help fellow women actualize their visions, and to help them develop their careers for personal satisfaction and to be impactful in science while maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Another continued barrier for women in science: access to maternity leave and proper childcare. According to The Mom Project, an estimated 43% of highly skilled women leave the workforce once they become mothers. Women should also have the ability to pursue rewarding careers and whatever else they want for their lives. Women who are fortunate enough to live in a place that invests in maternity leave and subsidized, affordable, high-quality childcare have the opportunity to pursue a career as well as motherhood, if they desire. As an immigrant without extended family support, maternity leave and having access to safe and secure childcare enabled my husband and I to pursue our careers with peace of mind.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science is a celebration of progress, and a reminder of the need for equality and access for many around the world. The day was adopted by UN resolution in 2015 and signified a widespread commitment to equal access for education and opportunity in scientific fields. We’ve simultaneously made progress since then but have a long way to go globally. Those of us in leadership positions have unique opportunities to improve gender parity, and I hope the awareness raised by this day serves as a call to action for all of us. I’m fond of this quote from Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Let us all channel its meaning and focus on individual and collective contribution in our workplaces and communities; we must be intentional in our engagement and in sharing our knowledge and experiences to help support our goal of gender parity.
Continue the conversation with Dr. Keyhani on LinkedIn.