Seek out women mentors in the field you are interested in.
Rachel holds a BSc in Environmental Sciences from the University of British Columbia, a MSc in Biology from Concordia University (Montreal), and a PhD in Parasitology from McGill University. She is currently Assistant Professor of Biology at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she teaches ecology and evolution, organismal biology, and global health. Rachel maintains research collaborations in Manitoba and Panama, in human and wildlife parasitology.
I enjoy how varied my job is. On a typical day, I may teach a lecture or lab class, have a conversation with community members involved in conservation work in the neighbourhood where my university is located, edit a manuscript, examine biological samples in the lab for a current research project, and meet with colleagues to talk about new undergraduate programming.
My research is in parasitology, both in humans and wildlife. I have a number of collaborations with other researchers, which has allowed me to continue working in a few different systems, even though my teaching load does not allow as much time for research as I would like. This has meant that I have had the opportunity to exchange ideas and work closely with really talented scientists, here in Canada (in Winnipeg, where I'm based), and internationally. This interchange of ideas keeps things interesting and fresh.
I am fortunate to work in an institution that values diversity, with colleagues who think it is important that we as a university continually self-evaluate to ensure that our hiring practices reflect our values about gender diversity.
I would encourage girls and young women who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM to seek out women mentors in the field they are interested in. Mentors are really valuable in helping to decode the "culture" of different disciplines and work environments.
I was fortunate to have strong female academic role models throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies. Some of these women in particular navigated academic life as graduate students and young faculty members at a time when there were many fewer women entering academic careers, and I have great admiration for how hard they must have had to work, and how mentally tough they would have had to be. Their perseverance has meant that my career path has been much easier, and I feel a great debt to them.