February 11th marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in order to promote full and equal access and participation for women and girls in science. It is an opportunity to celebrate the essential role that women play in the field.
The field of science has historically seen men as the majority of the workforce with less than a third of those employed in scientific research and development worldwide being women. In the US, women make up only 28% of the science and engineering workforce. However, in recent years, the number of women entering the field of science has steadily increased. In 2019, women made up more than a third (40.9%) of scientists and engineers in the EU.
LGC, the global life science company behind INFORMED, has a mission statement of ‘Science for a Safer World’ that is supported by the numerous women who make up the various parts of the business. As of 2019, women make up 53% of LGC’s workforce. INFORMED would like to honour the women that play a key role in ensuring the success of our certification programmes. We spoke with several women in our Fordham (UK) and Lexington (US) offices about their roles, what sparked their interest in the field and any advice to provide to girls who are also interested in a career in science.
Lorie Bishop has been a cornerstone of LGC and our INFORMED programmes, including overseeing the opening of our Lexington laboratory in 2011.
I am the Laboratory Director at the Lexington facility.
I started my career in forensic science, being drawn to it by watching reruns of an old television show (“Quincy, M.E.”) when I was a kid. Each episode featured the title character solving a murder via investigation and science. It was enough to spark my interest and so I began to read more about the real science behind forensic investigations. I was hooked.
I enjoy working with my colleagues to identify ways to continuously improve our programmes: from expanding the testing capabilities within the programmes to identifying new services that can assure quality products to more people.
To the very young I’d say: Science is a challenge but it can cure diseases, take you to the moon, and keep pandas from going extinct so the hard work is worth it. To an older girl with a bit more perspective, I’d tell them: With hard work, you can expect to have a seat at the table. If you’ve put in the work and you don’t have the seat, demand what you deserve.
Samantha Kay is the Senior Programme Manager for our INFORMED brands. Under her guidance are the UK and US programme management teams, which assist new and current brands on our programmes.
I’m the Senior Programme Manager for the INFORMED Certification Programmes. My teams are responsible for managing the certifications right from when customers first sign up through to completing certification and beyond! We ensure that all of the relevant testing and manufacturer auditing meets criteria and we are also there to help and guide our customers if there are any questions. We also help to shape the programmes to ensure they are fit for purpose and deliver what our customers need.
I always enjoyed science at school, especially biology! Once I started working in science after graduating, I realized what a huge range of career possibilities it offered. My passion now has evolved into management and leadership and I am fortunate to have the most amazing team!
There are so many things I love about the INFORMED certifications! But number one for me is the PEOPLE – and I see this as both our internal science, commercial, programme and marketing teams, as well as our customers! It is so exciting to be a part of each customer’s journey and through our customers, we learn and find new ways to evolve and grow as a business.
I would say go for it! Aim high, work hard and have confidence in your abilities! Gain lots of experience and explore new areas – in science there are so many different and rewarding ways to develop a successful career and find your passion.
Emma Midforth plays a key role in the scientific developments for testing samples for our various quality assurance programmes in our Fordham lab.
Senior Scientist – I am involved in the routine testing of samples as well as the development of new or improved processes.
My favourite subjects at school were math and science and it followed from there. I undertook a student placement at LGC as part of my master's degree and enjoyed the work and environment so applied for a job here when I completed the degree.
I always have an interesting answer to the ‘what job do you do?’ question at parties! Anti-doping in sports is often in the news and I like that we play a part in reducing the risks for athletes and manufacturers.
The best science happens when there are contributions from a diverse range of voices.
Mary Lou Pittman has worked with LGC for two years as an Assistant Scientist. Recently, Mary Lou transformed her role into the Lexington Quality Assurance Department as the QSHE Coordinator.
I am the QSHE Coordinator in the Quality Assurance Department.
I started considering a career in science as a high schooler. I first became interested in the human metabolic system as an athlete and wanted to learn more about how our bodies convert food to energy. From there it grew to an appreciation of chemistry and biology that carried me through college. Now, in QA at LGC I’m able to help my peers ensure the procedures we do daily are thorough, proper, and safe for everyone involved.
From an athletic perspective, I wish I had known more about the INFORMED programmes while I was in college. I would have felt more inclined to use supplements as an athlete with the promise that they are clean and safer for use. I enjoy working with our INFORMED certified products because I know it is helping other athletes in their endeavours and daily grind.
To the young women of STEM, remember that you are capable, incredible, and intelligent. There are thousands of women across decades of time that have been trailblazers to ensure that women today and in the future are included and involved in the development of science and technology. What an honor it is to be part of their legacy!
Cristy Gonzalez has been a part of LGC for nearly three years. As a scientist and workflow coordinator of our Lexington lab, Cristy plays an integral role in the testing of all samples for INFORMED certified products, ingredients and manufacturing sites.
I am the Workflow Coordinator and a Scientist. As the Workflow Coordinator, I am in charge of making sure that everything in the lab is running smoothly in order to ensure quality results for our customers. I am also very involved with multiple tasks that need to be completed in order to successfully produce results, such as; accessioning, extractions, data review and instrument maintenance.
I always loved my science classes! Once I was in college I took the regular biology and chemistry classes and decided to seek more science opportunities. Many professors offered me more lab time working with them on various research projects, this encouraged me to pursue a career in science.
My favourite part about working with the INFORMED certification programme is watching products go through the lab; from start to finish. From logging in the sample in accessioning, extracting and data review, there are truly so many different steps that need to be accomplished in order for a sample to receive certification. It always amazes me how much work is put into every single sample.
Do it and do not be intimidated! I strongly encourage you to get involved in research work that is offered in college to see if you are truly interested! I am so thankful for the time I have spent in the lab, not only because of the work I have produced but because of how much I have challenged myself and learned about myself.