International Women’s Day 2024 at the OCRB

A panel discussion at the International Women's Day 2024 event

On Friday 8th March, the MCRC supported Dr Simona Valletta, Chair of the Women in Cancer Network in Manchester, in hosting an International Women’s Day 2024 event at the Oglesby Cancer Research Centre.

The day included a selection of insightful talks, panel discussions and interactive workshops. Read on for a quick recap of the day.

Introduction by Dr Simona Valletta

Dr Simona Valletta opened the event with an empowering welcome talk that emphasised the importance of recognising and celebrating the invaluable role of women in science.

‘As new chair of the Women in Cancer Network, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to embedding equality, diversity and inclusion in our work and creating a world where all women are empowered and valued.

We are working on future initiatives and events that will be crucial in creating opportunities for women to thrive and achieve their full potential, building a more equitable and inclusive culture for all.’

Our International Women’s Day event was a powerful reminder of the progress that has been made but also highlighted that we need to continue working together to push for true gender equality and to challenge stereotypes.

Dr Simona Valletta

Chair of the Women in Cancer Network in Manchester

Keynote talks

The morning session featured three keynote speakers, who each shared their unique journeys and insights.

1. Professor Rachel Cowen – Inclusive Research
Rachel Cowen, Professor of Inclusive Research and Academic Development at The University of Manchester, talked about her journey from academia to working in research and the challenges she faced in balancing her career, personal life and motherhood. She highlighted the need for visibility of women in leadership roles and emphasised the importance of making use of professional development opportunities.

2. Professor Irene Roberts – Mentorship and Leadership
Irene Roberts, Professor of Paediatric Haematology at The University of Oxford, shared her experience of being part of national and international scientific societies. Irene discussed the lasting impact that mentors can have and the value she finds in mentoring younger colleagues.

3. Dr Rachel Pooley – Commercialisation
Rachel Pooley, Innovation Discovery Manager at The University of Manchester Innovation Factory, walked us through her journey from a PhD researcher to founding a start-up and working in venture capital. She shed light on Manchester’s vibrant innovation ecosystem and advocated for greater representation of women in entrepreneurship.

Dr Simona Valletta opening the Internal Women's Day 2024 event at the OCRB

Dr Simona Valletta opening the Internal Women's Day 2024 event at the OCRB.

A panel discussion at the International Women's Day 2024 event

A panel discussion at the International Women's Day 2024 event.

Following the keynote talks, there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and delve further into topics as part of the panel session. Rachel Cowen and Irene Roberts were joined by Dr Yee Pei Song, clinician at The Christie, Adesewa Adebisi, non-clinical PhD student at The University of Manchester, and Dr Sapna Lunj, postdoctoral researcher. The panel discussed various topics including early career development, training opportunities, grant writing, mentorship, and inclusivity in research.

After lunch and a chance for networking, attendees had the opportunity to participate in interactive workshop sessions covering topics like work-life balance, mentorship, career progression, and commercialisation of research ideas. These sessions aimed to provide practical insights and tools for personal and professional growth.


Closing thoughts

The event concluded with reflections on the various discussions that unfolded throughout the day, such as fostering greater diversity, inclusion, and empowerment in the world of science and cancer research.


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