Submitted by: Dr. Julie Wong
There has been positive progress over the past thirty years in recognizing women in this field which has not always been considered a traditional career path; and although there have been increasing trends, women are still under-represented in science. This under-representation is rooted in gender stereotypes, cultural biases and even sexism which have created false expectations and misconceptions. I’ve realized through my own personal experiences that in order to influence a change in perception, it is important to have strong role models and outreach groups that promote and advocate for women in science and technology. I’ve been actively involved on a the Board of Directors of a women’s professional group, Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) that engages and encourages girls and young women in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to improve attitudes and participation closing the gender gap. Empowering women as social, economic and political leaders creates more representative and effective governments and institutions. Women offer unique contributions that will benefit society as a whole.
In addition to my involvement with SCWIST, I am also fortunate to be working in an equal opportunity environment at The Centre for Drug Research and Development which has strong female leadership in all aspects of science, innovation, and business; as well as in the broader community context.
I’d like to share with you an article from Research Media Europe (see pages 9-11) that discusses some of the initiatives that SCWIST has taken to promote and empower women in science and technology and the underlying issues that remain in gender equality in STEM fields.
About the author….
Dr. Julie Wong
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie
Julie (or Dr. J when she’s blogging) is currently completing a Business Internship at CDRD. She received her PhD from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) where she developed novel diagnostic tools for the study of G-protein couple receptors and related membrane proteins employing peptide synthesis, photocrosslinking and mass spectrometry. Her work focused on developing novel proteomic approaches for the study of a family physiologically important drug targets that play a role in cell homing, HIV-1 infection, cancer and immunology.
Having been fascinated by experimentation and deductive reasoning from a young age, building pin-hole cameras, soda bottle rockets and making “healing potions” from rocks and tree branches, Julie always knew that she would be destined for a career in science. Following her graduate studies, she set out to find the “bigger picture” and find out how she could contribute to bringing science from conception to public health. She found opportunities to learn more about the business and licensing aspects of drug development following her studies at the technology transfer office at UBC (UILO). At the UILO, she worked on evaluating emerging health research guidelines and how it enables global access to technologies developed from academia. She subsequently transitioned into market research and published for on-line articles, off-the-shelf, custom consulting and surveys for international medical device markets which included the U.S., Europe, Brazil, Russia, India and China. Her research reports were among the top selling portfolios at the company which has garnered positive feedback from key opinion leaders. She has since combined her scientific and business experiences at CDRD, working in a valuable role where academia meets industry. CDRD is an innovative organization where pre-clinical health research can be evaluated and optimally developed to address areas of high unmet medical need.
In her spare time, Julie is active on the Board of Directors for The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology and is an appointed member of The Women’s Advisory Committee for the City of Vancouver which reports to City Council. Julie is also a long-standing judge for the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair, which she says is an inspirational event where she can rekindle her childhood love for discovery.