Nfld. & Labrador

Hey, Girl: Seek out science as a career

Two researchers in Newfoundland and Labrador are talking up science, which they say is an exciting field, for the U.N.'s International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Feb. 11 marks the United Nations' International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Feb. 11 is the U.N.'s International Day of Women and Girls in Science. (Supplied by Izabella Pena)

Two researchers in Newfoundland and Labrador are talking up science – which they say is an exciting field that includes microscopes, fish and data – as Saturday is the United Nations' International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

"Any girl that's interested in science, pursue it," says Lynn Lush, a biologist who works at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in St. John's.

"Find the areas you enjoy, whether that is natural sciences, engineering, technology and just pursue it from there."

The day is "an opportunity for all to take a stand for girls and women in science," according to a statement by Irina Bokova, director-general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

'There are fewer of us'

Hannah Murphy is a research scientist with a PhD, who also works at DFO.

She said while she personally hasn't experienced discrimination because of her gender in her career, she knows not all women can say the same thing.

Lynn Lush, a biologist at DFO, is studying the interactions between farmed and wild salmon. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

"There are fewer women at that level and especially starting to work as a research scientist, there are fewer of us ... so it is a factor, but no, I don't think about it everyday," said Murphy, who had an early interest in biology.

Start young

Lush said she became interested in science at a young age, even listing marine biology as her career of choice alongside her high school yearbook photo as marine biology.

"Watching way too many episodes of [CBC's] Danger Bay in my youth," she said, laughing.

Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO. (Jacques Brinon/Associated Press)

"That mindset was there right from the get-go ... I remember the page in my high school biology book describing mitosis and it has stuck with me all these years."

As for ensuring girls know that science is a field they can become a part of if they want, Lush said it starts early with the simple things.

"I have a 3-year-old [daughter] and I ensure that she sees mommy doing scientific work and sees mommy as a career woman," she said.

"I also influence her by showing her the natural sciences in the world. So we pick up rocks and we look for bugs underneath."

With files from On the Go