Thoughts from the field: why women should consider a career in science

Kate McGrath

Professor of Chemistry, Victoria University of Wellington and Director at MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology

I chose science because it combined the ability to really understand things at a fundamental level and then to apply that knowledge for the greater good of the community and society.  That was a pretty seductive goal.  It’s a huge drawcard to think that what you do has the capacity to positively benefit people and the community.

Young people often have misconceptions about science. It is not a narrow, rules-based, left-brain activity, with no opportunities for creativity and new ideas.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Good science is all about being curious, asking questions, exploring the world we live in with intelligence and imagination. It really is a very creative, mind-expanding career to pursue. The only limits in science are the ones you place on yourself.

Science is an exciting, dynamic career for women, just as it is for men.  The employment opportunities are huge. They are not just in research but in the application of science which underlies so many commercial enterprises.

My advice to young people is to do what you love. Do what you are passionate about. That’s always the secret to being good at something and being successful.

For a career in science, don’t plan too much. The more highly planned you are, the more restricted your options will be. Stay open to the many opportunities that open up when you do science. It’s a very broad field, with endless real-world applications.