#ThisLittleGirlIsMe, and she is still a big part of who I am today. From early in my life it was clear that I was headed for a life of learning. I loved books from before I could understand what the words meant. My parents found me in bed trying to read Encyclopedia Botanica one night. I was “reading” it upside down, but this was of little consequence to me.
I have always been driven to read, to learn, and to understand. I was so lucky to grow up in a family where knowledge was valued. My parents were both the first in their families to have attended university and both had chosen to become high school teachers, my mum a history and English teacher and my dad a science teacher. They encouraged a love of learning and a discipline for study in me that I carry into my work every day as a scientist.
I am so lucky that my role as a woman in science has never been questioned. I am in the privileged position of working in fields that are heavily dominated by women and coming from a context where a quality education was a right and not a privilege. I am who I am today as the result of the opportunities and mentors I have gained throughout my life as a woman in science. The little girl in the photo did not know that she would become a speech-language pathologist, Auslan interpreter, teacher of the deaf, and earn a PhD and Fulbright scholarship. She couldn’t have imagined that one day she would leave her hometown in Australia to work in New York, Denmark, and Iceland. The idea that her life in science would lead her to learn six languages would have been met with equal parts of curiosity, excitement, and disbelief. But this has been my journey from being a curious little girl to a woman in science: never predictable, never boring, and never ending. Now I stand on the global stage and fight to make the world a better place for children with communication difficulties. I use my passion and privilege so that they can have the best possible opportunity to live in a society where they experience equitable rights and are able to participate fully.
Today’s girls in science are tomorrow’s leaders in science. So girls, take the first step on your own amazing journeys. You can’t imagine the places you’ll go as a woman in science!