GET TO KNOW Dr. SARA GOOD
Dr. Sara Good is a renowned researcher specializing in the field of population and evolutionary genomics. Her expertise extends to the study of diverse organisms, including lamprey, fish, mice, humans, and plants. In addition, she had recently ventured into realm of genetic epidemiology, broadening the scope of her investigations.
At the core of Dr. Good’s research lies a deep fascination with the evolutionary processes that shape genomes. Her work revolves around unraveling the intricacies of genome evolution and leveraging genomic information to gain insights into the experiences of individuals and populations. This captivating line of inquiry is pursued both within her home institution, the University of Winnipeg, and through fruitful collaborations with esteemed researchers from the University of Manitoba, the Hospital for Sick Children, and other prominent institutions.
Q: What is it like to be a woman in bioscience?
A: For the most part wonderful if you really love science. As a professor, I would say it isn't necessarily easy to blend family and work life, but I feel privileged to have such a challenging and rewarding job.
Q: Who or what inspired you to work in the bioscience industry?
I was also inspired by the work of two well known historical and great female geneticists: Barbara McLintock and Rosaline Franklin. A professor from one of my undergraduate classes at UofT (Kermit Ritland) and a graduate student (now professor, Chris Eckert) at UofT inspired me to go on population genetics. From there, I had many influential role models at Penn State.
Q: Who are your women role models and not necessarily in science?
A: I was first inspired by my mother, who was a librarian, avid reader and a lover of the English language. I always loved math (unlike others in my family), and as soon as I met or read about female scientists, I was enrapted by their stories: three women in science that I met were am early personal inspiration to me: Ursula Franklin, Deborah Charlesworth and Sar
Q: Do you think there are particular structural roadblocks that impede the progress of women in science?
A: One of the most difficult ones is that many women delay child rearing until after their PhD, at which point they are often in their mid-30s. If they chose to have children then, it is hard to stay in very competitive areas of science. There are other road blocks too. During graduate school, male and female scientists are treated similarly I feel, but in the workplace, politics plays a larger role.
Q: Would you say that through your career, things have become better for women working in the bioscience industry?
A: I think there is more support for having children during your career. Some other things have also become better - I think people are more informed about discrimination and ill-treatment at work, and it is easier to find resources when you encounter problems.
Q: How did you reach your level of success, given the sector’s gender gap, especially among leadership?
A: I had my children during my doctoral studies which, although sounds stressful, was a great time to have them career-wise I think. I also had a supportive husband. I have found it somewhat more difficult to avoid discrimination at work and even took an $8K salary drop when changing jobs.
Q:What are the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
A: Bad politics in my own department from both women and men. My solution was to avoid it all and just press on trying to excel in research - a strategy that was rewarding in the end.
Q: If you had the option to give advice to a younger version of yourself, what would that be?
A: Speak up when you are being mis-treated at work. Understand that you need to be careful who you are kind to - as a woman (and mother) I value kindness a lot, but people in the work place can take advantage of that or see it as weakness, so you need to prioritize professionalism and know when to stand up to people with strong personalities.
This is a long quote, but I've really enjoyed some of the writing of Timnit Gebru on the ethics of AI. Here is a "quote" by her:
We're seeing a kind of a Wild West situation with AI and regulation right now. The scale at which businesses are adopting AI technologies isn't matched by clear guidelines to regulate algorithms and help researchers avoid the pitfalls of bias in datasets. We need to advocate for a better system of checks and balances to test AI for bias and fairness, and to help businesses determine whether certain use cases are even appropriate for this technology at the moment.
LinkedIn: Sara Good