Prof Maria Forsyth: A message for International Women’s Day

March 12, 2020
Sam Findlay

On the eve of International Women’s Day, I would like to reach out to all young scientists to stress the value of having a go and following your passions.

This is the most important key to success. Don’t listen to that inner negative voice that might hold you back by saying – ‘I’m not as good as so and so….’. – that imposter voice that exists in all our heads. Chances are that your unique strengths and knowledge hold the vital key to solving a really important problem. Have a go!


Most importantly, success, in my opinion, comes from respectful collaboration and team work, as well as working in diverse teams. This means, not looking for people who are like you but going that extra, and often challenging, step to engage with different people – diversity of gender, ethnicity, personality, culture and specialisation all support creative thinking and unique solutions to important scientific problems. That’s how we can make a true impact to address the societal challenges. It’s through team work and having a ‘can do’ attitude.


Finally, I urge you all to seek out mentors (both men and women). I still have mentors whose voices I value. It doesn’t have to be through a formal ‘mentoring scheme’. It might be just a casual coffee or meal or even by email or Skype. Or it might be through networking groups. Keep open to the ideas of others and see how these fit into your own value system and your own definition of ‘success’. One thing we all have to consider is how we define ‘success’ and ‘merit’ in today’s world.


So, seek out the important problems that you feel passionate about and where you think you can contribute through your science and engineering background, look for collaborations and mentors, practise self care for yourself and your team and above all ……..Work Hard and Work Happy!!


Congratulations to Maria, who was today inducted into the 2020 Victorian Honour Roll of Women. The Roll recognises inspirational women from all walks of life and this year 32 women were inducted. Read more here.


This article for originally published in the Institute for Frontier Materials newsletter on March 6.

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