It’s International Women and Girls in Science day today. With the purpose to promote equal and full access to women and girls to participate in science, this day hopes to encourage people to recognise the role that they already play. In honour of this, we wanted to create a three part series that spotlights the women in science behind Wǒ, appreciating their motivations, what they have achieved and the barriers they may have faced. And to kick start this, we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Gillian Westgate…
Gill is a skin and hair research scientist whose career has been focused on exploiting this knowledge in the cosmetics and beauty sector. Her career has comprised significant work experience in industry and latterly working at the University of Bradford where her role is to develop an sustain industry partnerships
Q. What motivated you to work with Wǒ?
I am very motivated to help small companies access academic facilities and expertise. The project with Wǒ was a great example of how we can access staff and student volunteers who are interested in skin care to be part of a research project.
Q. What's the biggest lesson you have learnt working with Wǒ?
Even small projects can have big impacts for SMEs!
Q. How did you become successful despite gender inequalities?
I have always seen myself as a scientist who could compete with the best. I have been fortunate to work in organisations that promote female scientists; however, a lot of my success has been due to my gaining a strong understanding of business too.
Q. What are your most proud achievements to date?
I am proud to have shown my kids that having a scientist mum is cool and they are very proud of me too. I helped develop and launch a global hair care brand and developed a method for growing hair follicles ex vivo which has now been used by a huge number of researchers and companies around the world.
Q. What struggles have you faced?
Being strong willed, the struggles are usually when I am not able to shape my own future, for example when other commitments mean compromise.
Q. What advice would you give your teenage self?
Believe in yourself and know that being ambitious is OK.
Q. Did you have any female mentors or role models in your field?
Yes - Some were personal friends who provided unconditional support; others were strong leaders who inspired me to be able to be a leader in my field
Q. What are your hopes for the future of women in science?
Science should be genderless and scientists from diverse backgrounds are needed for the next generation of research. I would also like to see more girls engage in science in school and for them to know for sure that cutting edge science is essential for the development of cosmetic and beauty products so they might choose to become a scientist in the cosmetics industry
If you have any questions for Gill, please share with us below!