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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Let’s give a shoutout to all the amazing scientists and researchers that put their all into their work everyday and do their part in the fight against cancer! This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we had the chance to interview a few of our researchers and got their opinions on some frequently asked questions.

But first of all, what is International Day of Women and Girls in Science? And why do we have it?

So, onto our own researchers…

We had asked 3 of our scientists to have a brief discussion about what it is to be a woman working in what is thought of to be a predominantly male industry.

When asked what first attracted them to the field of cancer research, they all gave similar answers of first having an interest in science, genetics and human biology, coupled with their want to put their skills and knowledge towards a good cause. Thus, their journey with Cancer Research Malaysia began.

But research isn’t making new discoveries and developing cures for diseases everyday, it’s a long game they’re playing. Creating new or repurposing existing treatments can take a long time, but they know that all their hard work is worth it. Patience, perseverance, and passion are required when working in the field of research, and when times got tough, they looked to their mentors, colleagues, and the patients that are in need to motivate them to continue on with their work.

Work-life balance can at times be a tricky thing to handle, especially when the work being done is time sensitive. And while cancer research can be demanding, it’s work that has to be done in order to ensure a future free from the fear of cancer.

And in order to harness the full potential of, not only Malaysian, but global talents, it is important to ensure that everyone that can contribute. It only limits ourselves if half the population is discouraged to join a field purely based on gender. Traditionally, men have occupied leading roles in research disciplines, but we here at Cancer Research Malaysia are proudly led by women.

And so, we asked our researchers, what they would say to the women and girls who are thinking of pursuing a career in the STEM fields.

“If you’re 20-something, be brave, be daring to challenge your teachers and bosses, in a good way… debate on facts that you think about a particular fact, instead of just believing everything in a textbook is very important. So ask questions appropriately, that would actually help to cultivate the culture of research.”

Dr Lim Kue Peng, Head of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Research Unit.

“Don’t limit yourself by thinking that after you graduate, you know everything. Because, especially in science and technology, things move quite fast and you constantly have to learn new things. And whatever you’ve learnt in the past may not be 100% correct anymore. You have to be open-minded, and be willing to keep on learning new things.

Chai San Jiun, Senior Research Associate.

“Stay curious. And if you have an interest in the STEM fields, nurture that and have the courage to pursue a career in that field. If you do, you’ll have a chance of having a fulfilling career in a profession that you know can contribute to society.”

Shivaani Mariapun, Senior Research Associate.

And even with all the hardships and difficulties, the work that researchers do on a daily basis contributes towards creating new treatment options and preventative measures that has the potential to save lives. Their tireless efforts have, and will continue to, pay off when it comes to keeping the fight against cancer ongoing.

It’s amazing how we have reached 20 years of continuous cancer research, being a non profit organisation. And that is all thanks to our all supporters and cheerleaders. If being a part of the fight against cancer is important to you, you can support us by donating to ensure lifesaving cancer research does not miss Asians – especially Malaysians.

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