Females encouraged to explore opportunities in Science and Technology at inaugural ‘Conversations in Science’ Series

The Scientific Research Council (SRC) in conjunction with the MICO University College hosted the first in its series of  “Conversations in Science”. The event which intentionally coincided with the International Day for Women and Girls in Science focused on empowering and encouraging females with interest in science and business. The “conversation‟ according to Kavelle Hylton, Acting Coordinator, Science, Technology and Education Unit, SRC, “was designed to engage, sensitize and solicit public dialogue on science-based matters of national importance”.

Cross-section of audience at event

The dialogue of the day was all inspiring, as the predominantly female audience was encouraged to utilize their creativity and innovativeness to attain their goals. For many, it was the rare opportunity of meeting local female scientists, who were resilient enough to overcome stereotypes associated with the male-dominated field and accomplish the seemingly impossible task of turning science into successful businesses.

Referring to the event as “a long-awaited conversation”, SRC‟s Executive Director, Dr. Cliff Riley emphasised the country’s need to innovate in order to grow, highlighting the fact that out of 129 countries, Jamaica was ranked at 94 for innovation by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. He stated that it was therefore appropriate that the conversation started with entrepreneurs in science.

Dr. Riley also drove home the fact that support to entrepreneurs was pertinent to the nation‟s growth and development. He encouraged all; including youngsters present at the event, to be creative, generate new ideas and utilize available options and organizations (such as the SRC) to bring ideas to life.

MICO’s President, Dr. Asburn Pinnock, also emphasized the point that in order for Jamaica to join developed countries of the world we have to invest heavily in science and technology. He states that though women are performing better than men in Jamaica, they are still lagging behind in the sciences. He encouraged females present at the event to take particular interest in the scientific field as the highest paid jobs around the world today are in Science and Technology.

The day’s activities included presentations from female scientists who had managed to beat the odds and attain success and also featured a panel discussion consisting of accomplished female scientists who were also successful entrepreneurs. Attendees were encouraged to reach beyond their limitations and to never allow failure to stunt their growth.

Scientists/entrepreneurs panellists at the event: Fr. R : Ms. Dianne Plummer CEO/True Shade Cosmetics & Chemical Engineer Lecturer UTECH; Dr. Chris-Ann Simpson Harley, Managing Director/West Trade Distribution & Consultant OBGYN; Dr. Charah Watson, Owner Kihara Cosmetics & Manager, PRD, SRC and Ms. Kellisia Ebanks, Building Services Engineer and Chevening Scholar

As stated by SRC‟s, Kavelle Hylton, “the Scientific Research Council‟s decision to host this forum is indicative of our awareness and responsiveness to science and technology education and the low levels of innovation that presently exist nationally”.

Chevening Scholar, Ms. Kellisia Ebanks in dialogue with a member of the audience at “Conversations in Science”
Presenters: Dr. Shadae Foster, Research Scientist, SRC and 2018 Young Scientist of the Year; Ms. Nastassia Morrison, Client Engagement Manager, Caribbean & South America, RealDecoy and Dr. Lisa Caleb, Biology Lecturer, MUC at the SRC’s Conversation in Science

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