Marina Raynbird, Head of Research and Development at Isca.

This week for International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we are speaking to Marina Raynbird. Marina joined Isca in November 2020 as Head of Research and Development. We asked her about her progression in science, from GSCEs to PhD and what needs to be done to attract more women into Science.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in science?

I always enjoyed science at school, and I did well in my GCSEs. I took this as a sign and decided to choose chemistry, biology, and maths for my A Levels. I enjoyed chemistry the most.

After my A Levels, I studied chemistry at university. After completing my undergrad degree, it was the same story, so I just kept going.

Before I knew it, I had a PhD in Organic Chemistry.

Have you worked with a lot of other female scientists throughout your education?

In my science classes at school there were a few more boys, but it was pretty much an equal split. My chemistry, biology and math teachers were also female, so I think I have been quite lucky and had some strong female role models.

In my university labs, there was noticeably more male students. When I worked in company labs, they have been more or less 50/50 split however what I’ve found is in the rest of the company, management tends to be mostly male with more females in receptionist and admin roles.

Have you ever faced a scenario where you felt judged for being a woman in science?

Very rarely, although somebody did once make a comment that women are less appealing to employers than men because we tend to have children before we are 30.

It made me feel disposable in a way. To think that my hard work to get a PhD and my knowledge are not worthy because of the risk I will take maternity leave.

Luckily, at Isca this isn’t a concern and everyone is treated equally.

If I asked a room full of people to draw a scientist, what do you think they would look like?

Really nerdy, almost to the point of not approachable, kind of like Sheldon off The Big Bang Theory? That is not really the case though, as we all know.

I would describe myself as a scientist as that is a big part of who I am, but I do have a life outside of science like everyone else.

The pandemic has brought science to the forefront. How can we use this to attract more women into science?

To put it simply, more role models. If more interviews on the news are conducted with female scientists talking about innovation and research behind COVID-19, that would inspire a whole new generation of young, female scientists.

They might stop and think ‘actually, that’s a really cool job. I never thought about pursuing a career in that sort of thing’.

Do you think the future is bright for women in science?

I really do. I think diversity is on everyone’s radar more than ever before. There has been a lot of talk about closing gender pay gaps and increasing equality. Many inequalities in society are surfacing right now, so I think we are on the right track going forward.

What is your inspirational message for girls and women who want to pursue a career in science?

Don’t put too much emphasis on other people’s opinions.

Science is exciting and things are always changing. The world will always need vaccines, new drugs, and cleaner energy. And let’s be honest, we can’t leave all that responsibility to one half of the population, can we?