Over the past years, many global efforts have inspired and engaged women and girls in science. Yet there are many opportunities to improve to include women in participating in science to the full extent of their abilities.
Today, we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, initiated by the United Nations General Assembly to draw attention to the gender imbalance and raise awareness of women and girls’ essential contribution to science and technology.
As an international pharmaceutical company, Eumedica welcomes women and girls worldwide to lead innovation, research and to inspire others to choose science as a career. And today, we are delighted to introduce Sandra Callens, our Senior QU Specialist.
Sandra, why did you choose to study science and how did it influence your career path?
It really started in high school where I felt more affinity with the world of science and mathematics. As time went on, I became more and more interested in the pharmaceutical industry and how it works. That’s why I studied Biochemistry in Leuven with a specialisation in pharmaco-technology. During my degree, I was able to experience life in the laboratory and, among other things, work on a yeast DNA sequencing project. From this, I understood that my place was elsewhere. It was at another level that I wanted to contribute to the treatment of patients in need.
So I started my professional career in quality assurance in a distribution centre of a pharmaceutical company where I ensured the supply of medicines to patients. One thing led to another, I built my career in QA and joined Eumedica 10 years ago. I am proud to work in this field and I always keep in mind that behind a medicine there is a patient. In the end, that’s what I go to work for every day.
Do you think enough is being done to promote women in science ?
As a woman in the scientific world, I have noticed different approaches compared to male colleagues. I have the feeling that you always have to prove yourself a bit more. Now, I think that the situation has changed over the years and that taboos have been broken. I think that women are beginning to get more room in this sector.
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is definitely an initiative I support. To be honest, I didn’t know we celebrated this until Eumedica promoted it a few years ago. I think It is important to talk about it and to continue to open the debate so that things can evolve positively.
What is the ratio of men to women at Eumedica and what do you think of the place of women ?
There is almost perfect equality between male and female workers in this company. Since I have worked here, I have never felt any difference in treatment because I am a woman. Everyone is recruited for their skills and personality alone. Male or female, it makes no difference. We have mixed teams at both administrative and operational levels. Even more, over the last 5 years, two women have taken on the role of Managing Directors. This proves that women are given the chance to fill roles of high responsibility.
What advice would you give to young women thinking about a career in research or science?
My advice would be simple: follow your dream! If you are interested in a career as a scientist, don’t stop at the few prejudices that still exist. Things are changing and you can be an important part of that evolution!