Women in Science at Edinburgh Instruments – Angela Flack
To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science we take time to catch-up with Angela Flack, our Applications Scientist. Here she reveals what a typical day looks like for her working within Raman Spectroscopy at Edinburgh Instruments. She tells us what she likes most about her job and offers advice to other females looking to kick start their career in science and technology.
What or who inspired you to pursue a scientific career?
My high school chemistry teacher, Mrs McMullen, really inspired me to follow a scientific route. She supported me and made me believe that I could achieve a career in science. Since then, I’ve been lucky to have a really varied scientific experience. My Master’s degree was focused on Forensic and Analytical Chemistry, followed by a PhD in Biophysics and now at Edinburgh Instruments I get to bring all 3 scientific areas together.
Can you describe a typical day?
A typical day for me would start off by turning on all the lab equipment I need for the day and grabbing myself a cup of coffee. Throughout the day there will be a mix of running customer samples and writing up blog posts and Application Notes. There may be meetings to discuss development of our instruments or new applications to try. I get to communicate with other departments and have interesting conversations about evolving science within the company.
What do you like most about your job?
In my job most days are a little bit different, which is nice to keep it interesting and exciting. Most scientific jobs involve continuously learning new things and being involved in new scientific discussions. As a scientist I love learning and my job allows to me to continue to learn and evolve, well after my studies are over.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a woman considering science as a career?
Do it! If you love science, go for it. Believe in yourself, the scientific community is getting more and more female input and the more women that follow the scientific career path the better! Study the science you love most – biology isn’t just for girls and physics isn’t just for boys!
What would we most likely find you doing at the weekend?
Mostly spending time with my friends and family. I love to travel, and studied in France, so any chance I get to visit a new city for the weekend or get back to France is fantastic. You’ll also find me at the gym, at gigs, or the cinema (pre-covid). Unfortunately, at the moment most of my spare time is spent with a glass of wine in front of the TV or forcing myself through some home workouts.
As a woman in science, have you come across any barriers?
Yes, unfortunately sometimes there are still some barriers. I’ve previously experienced assumptions about my role or my level and some of the advice you get given along the way is only given because you are a woman. Also, within the science industry there can be a lot “imposter syndrome” where women feel like they need to constantly prove themselves and this is an inner battle to find the confidence inside to know you are good enough and do deserve to be where you are!
Talk to other women when you’re feeling like this, we are one community and almost all females will have had these moments of doubt. You really have to believe in yourself and bring the difficult conversations to the table when you feel misconceptions have been made based on gender stereotypes so the community can continue to grow and progress towards gender equality.
On a broader scale, how can we encourage more women in science?
I think it’s important to make sure there is a higher female presence in the scientific community and teaching young girls science is for everyone. Getting rid of gender stereotyping jobs in schools and on the toy shelves to help kids realise no job is gender specific is crucial. We need more female professors at universities, and a higher representation of women in the media. For example, more female scientists on the news or in scientific documentaries to normalise women in science and teach young girls that science isn’t just for boys!
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