3 Dec 2009
Pamela Crespo won an A J Banks travel bursary to attend the 3rd International Symposium on Human Health Effects of Fruits and Vegetables FAV HEALTH 2009, which took place in France. Here she tells us about her interest in science and gives us her take on whether gender impacts her career.
What are you currently researching?
PC: My thesis topic links agronomy with the chemistry of food related to nutrition and health. My aim is to elucidate how pre-harvest factors influence bioactive compounds in strawberry fruits.
What are the challenges in your field of study?
PC: Food science requires knowledge in many different disciplines - chemistry, microbiology, the technology of food processes, nutrition, even the legal aspects of food production. Apart from being an expert in your field, you also need to have good management skills. My education mainly focused on scientific skills, but as I led my first project, I realised how human relations could strongly affect its outcome.
Where are the opportunities?
PC: Private industry offers a broad range of opportunities – work in quality improvement, new product development, nutritional or technological aspects of food products, or their sensory analysis. Research in nutrition and health is a very important topic today because people are becoming aware that what they eat may impact their health.
Would you say being a woman impacts your career prospects in any way?
PC: I think the qualification for a job remains the most important criteria in a career. However, as a woman, your career choices may impact your family life; especially if you plan to have children. For a woman, conciliating career and family still remains a challenge, even if the situation has improved in the last decade. Personally, I would like to plan the most suitable time to have children, to avoid a break in my career.
Are the challenges you face (being a woman) any different to those facing your male colleagues?
PC: I think we’re all facing the same challenges in research. However, in my environment I see fewer women at leadership levels. Perhaps there are fewer women interested in these jobs, because they prefer to have more family time. Generally, women’s candidatures are encouraged, especially in the public sector. I am convinced that good leadership qualities depend on the character of each person and are not necessarily related to gender.
You can connect with SCI members who are in a similar field to Pamela, through the SCI Members' Directory.