Today we’ve launched our pioneering Women of Influence Initiative. The scheme brings together a unique network of top business women to mentor the charity’s most promising young female scientists and clinicians as they move up the career ladder into senior positions. The network is also fundraising to support the scientists’ life-saving cancer research.
Tamara Box, the Chairwoman of the Women of Influence board tells us what the scheme plans to achieve and why she was so keen to be involved.
When Cancer Research UK asked me to lead an initiative to champion the efforts of their female scientists, I was more than honoured.
These women are hardworking, exceptionally intelligent, and — most important — passionate about finding cures for cancer.
Like commercial business endeavours, research requires funding, but the arduous and time-consuming process of securing grants and sponsorship – and running teams of people – is one for which academic studies may not have fully prepared the scientists.
That’s where the Women of Influence comes in.
The women on the Women of Influence board have many years of experience in both the private and public sectors. We’ve all experienced our challenges in organisations where women were under-represented and sometimes even disregarded, and each of us now has a particular interest in tipping the scales closer to equality in our own professions.
By supporting the female Fellows funded by Cancer Research UK, we’re not only supporting their important work in making real progress in understanding and ultimately curing cancer but also holding them up as role models, to encourage a new generation of girls to choose careers in the sciences.
Inspiring a new generation
The Women of Influence board will explore all avenues in our efforts to raise further funds to support the work of our female Fellows. Our target is £1 million, and we have two years to meet it – though we’d love to beat that both in time and money!
Moreover, while Women of Influence work towards the goal of gender balance in our respective professions, we need to encourage younger women to consider the richly rewarding work that awaits them in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) sector.
And you can find no better role models than the amazing women at Cancer Research UK. We hope to showcase these talented women regularly through our fundraising efforts.
Mentoring and professional support
The Women of Influence will also mentor Fellows as they navigate their own career paths, encouraging and supporting them into ever more senior roles in cancer research. We hope that the skills we use every day in the business world will complement their scientific expertise to help them continue their important work and increase their contributions to science.
I believe cancer will eventually be eradicated, but I’d like to see that day be sooner rather than later. And wouldn’t it be satisfying if the breakthrough research is done by a woman?
It was less than 10 years ago that Madeleine Albright made her famous comment: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” I like to think that today’s professionals have learned the lesson that women of Albright’s generation fought so hard to get across: women must help each other wherever and whenever they can.
The Women of Influence initiative is committed to that vision. Please join us by supporting the Women of Influence initiative of Cancer Research UK.