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No limits for women seeking a career in science

Acting Senior Scientist in Microbiology Shannen Fentimen, pictured with scientist D'artagnan Barnard, says science is an incredibly fulfilling career.

Shannen Fentiman always wanted to work in health but being shy when she was younger meant talking to patients all day didn’t seem like the right path for her.

“This led me to discover a whole hidden area known as pathology. Being a scientist meant doing the behind-the-scenes work. This ticked all the boxes for me.”

Shannen is the Acting Senior Scientist in Microbiology based in the pathology labs at Gold Coast University Hospital.

“Having entered a new role as part of the management team, the challenges that come with learning about the other side of being a scientist are understanding what it takes to help run a laboratory. It is a large task and involves a lot of moving parts to ensure everything goes smoothly," she said.

"Thankfully I work in a team where everyone is highly skilled and knowledgeable about many aspects of microbiology,” she said.

This International Women’s Day, Shannen’s advice to women looking at a career is science is to seek out a support network and learn to love the complex nature of the field.

“There are no limitations to what you can achieve as a woman in science. It is an incredibly fulfilling career, with so many pathways,” she said.

“Taking the time to foster good relationships at all stages of the journey is so important, as you never know where you’ll meet these people again down the road. If you surround yourself with excellence, then you can be nothing less.

“I have been fortunate enough to have been surrounded by many female role models. From my time studying at university, to working in a hospital, there is no lack of incredible women around me.

“They have taught me to constantly seek out knowledge and to ask the right questions, to take pride and care about every aspect of the work we do.

"They have shown me where I could be in the future and supported me on my own journey, leading by example with everything they do.”

Last updated 08 Mar 2022