Jayne Davis: “I am not convinced in my area of research there are less females choosing to take their career in this direction.”
We spoke to Jayne Davis, works as a Postdoctoral research fellow in the Plant and crop science department at the University of Nottingham.
We asked her about the role of women and girls in science and how the situation has changed over the years. These were her answers:
1.-Can you briefly describe your line of work and the company in which you develop it?
I currently work in the Plant and Crop science department at The University of Nottingham as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow. My role involves carrying out research into the mode of action of the biostimulant Phosphite.
2.-How would you awaken more scientific vocation in women and why do you think that girls choose few scientific-technical careers?
I think the best way to encourage more women into technical careers is to encourage all school children, girls and boys, to develop an interest in science and the way the world works at a young age. All children should be encouraged to follow the career path they want to regardless of sex. I am not convinced focusing on encouraging female student to take a scientific/technical path is the best, this my reinforce the stereotype and make them feel they will always be fighting to make progress in their career if they choose this option.
I am not convinced in my area of research there are less females choosing to take their career in this direction. In my experience there is not a big difference in the number of men and women at most levels in plant sciences. I have worked at a number of institutes and the number of male and female group leaders and department heads is about equal, this is also true for the more junior roles.
3.-How has the profile of your profession changed since you studied?
I think both historically and today the biological sciences have been the science with the least gender gap, even when I first studied 20 years ago there was an equal number of men and women studying and teaching biology at least at my university.
4.-Do you participate in any educational or social activity that promotes STEM careers in girls?
Throughout my career I have been involved in outreach events aimed at school children. However never specifically aimed at girls, I believe it is important to cultivate an interest in science in everyone from an early age whether it’s with a view to a future career or just a better understanding of how the world works.
5.-Have you encountered any obstacles due to the fact of being women in your professional development?
Working in plant sciences, in an academic environment, I am lucky to work in a discipline that is very inclusive and have never experienced any difficulties due to being female. In my experience this discipline has a good balance between the sexes at all levels.
6.- Do you think that the feminine vision provides some differential value in science and does it contribute?
I am not convinced that it is helpful to assume that all women or all men offer the same attributes in the workplace, and better to judge people on their own individual qualities. In my career I have had a number of female colleges who have had what would be traditionally considered male traits and vice versa. With the gender roles becoming less defined these so called male and female characteristics are likely to become less defined.
- Dr Jayne Davis works as a Postdoctoral research fellow in the Plant and crop science department at the University of Nottingham. Here her research focuses on the mode of action of the biostimulant Phosphite.
- Jayne studied for a degree in Applied biological science at the University of west of England in Bristol, before working as a Research assistant at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and a Research technician in the Plant sciences department at the University of Oxford. She later went on to study for her PhD “The relationship between potassium deficiency and fungal pathogens in barley”, which was jointly supervised by Dr Anna Amtmann (University of Glasgow) and Prof Philip White and Dr Adrian Newton (SCRI).
- Since completing her PhD Jayne has worked as a postdoctoral research assistant at the James Hutton Institute where she worked on the NatuCrop project the focus of which was to develop a third generation bio-stimulant product that uses a blend of naturally-derived biomolecules to provide consistent stress protection. Following this she worked at NIAB in Cambridge as part of the N-Circle project which aimed to reduce nitrogen loss within the whole farm system.