Women in Science | Female Scientists Today | United Kingdom

Women in Science at Edinburgh Instruments - Maria Tesa

At Edinburgh Instruments we have for a long time been advocates of Women in Science. In the first of a new series, we are delighted to catch-up with Dr. Maria Tesa, a Product Specialist to find out what she likes about her work and how she finds working in what is predominantly a man’s world.

Maria has been working at Edinburgh Instruments for 2 years. Responsible for product support, sales support and applications Maria spends her time between the Application Lab at Edinburgh Instruments HQ and travelling the globe running demonstrations, training, and speaking at key industry events.

What or who inspired you to pursue a scientific lead career?

Reading books on science from an early age and having good science teachers at school probably influenced my decision to study a degree in Chemistry. My interests have changed with the years, so after a PhD in fundamental research I moved into the engineering industry to see my work applied in the real world. Of course, working in a company like Edinburgh Instruments means that I have not completely lost touch with Academia.

Can you describe a typical day?

Our team (Applications and Sales Support) answers technical queries from the Sales team and our network of distributors. We advise on the configuration of our modular spectrometers so that they meet the requirements for the end application. This often involves testing samples from potential customers in our applications lab. We are also involved in technical Marketing support, writing application notes for our range of products, and we travel abroad to present our results at conferences and exhibitions.

This means that my “typical day” can be very different from one day to another: I may spend some time answering technical questions from the Sales team or running test measurements in the lab, but I can also be doing an instrument demo or testing new products from our Development team.

What do you like most about your job?

The fact that it is so varied and that my ideas are listened to at all levels within the organisation. You don’t get that kind of environment in other companies.

I also enjoy interacting with our academic customers and learning about their work. It is very rewarding to know that our instruments are used in cutting-edge research that tackles important problems; from curing diseases to developing efficient solar cells.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to a woman considering science as a career?

It’s important to believe in your own abilities and never feel out of place if you are the only girl in the lab… think of it as paving the way for others!

As a woman in science, have you come across any barriers?

My personal experience has been quite positive and I have not encountered any obstacles in my career. Most senior roles in the scientific industry are still occupied by men, which can be discouraging, but I hope that this will change in the future as more women get into science. There are still huge unconscious biases that we need to fight against, not only in science but in society as a whole.

On a broader scale, how can we encourage more women in science?

We need to give female scientists some presence in the media so that young girls have role models. If you look at the statistics, the number of female students in science degrees is increasing but it varies largely between countries and cultures. I did a Chemistry degree in Spain and my class was strongly female-dominated; however, in other countries there is a majority of male Chemistry students because it is not seen as a “girls’ subject”. Gender stereotyping influences our career choices, and it’s much worse when you look at engineering subjects so there is a lot of work to be done to counteract it.

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