DR. FRANCESCA DI CARA, GENETICS
What sparked your interest in Genetics?
In university, I found that comparatively to other fields in science, it stood out in my perspective because it was a rapidly evolving field. It was also what I believed was the key to Biology.
What do you like about science?
It always keeps my brain running. If you do it as a job, there’s always a question and you must probe around to find the answer in the best way you can. What’s more interesting is that an answer doesn’t terminate your research, but instead, it propels another inquisitve question. It is a field that continuously engages the mind.
As a female scientist, do you face any prejudice?
I believe that there is a discrimination, but I feel that it was especially due to the fact that I’m foreigner. I’ve immigrated to Canada a few years ago prior to living in Italy. But currently, looking at the department, I see an imbalance of gender proportion. For instance, since I was an Italian immigrant who came to Canada, my communication affects my delivery of speech, so there’s definitely obstacles. When I was studying and working in Italy, I noticed that in comparison to Canada, there weren’t as many foreigners. However, the few that were present were even more isolated than the foreigners here.
What are some positives and negatives of being an immigrant scientist?
You benefit a lot from a new environment and your maturity as a scientist grows exponentially. The limitations are that you need to work hard and prove yourself because you are known as the “one with an accent”, “the landed immigrant”,etc. There is definitely a stigma associated with being a foreigners such as the belief that those with accents have poorer communication skills.
What can we do to spark interest in our future generation of scientists?
I think that improving scientific communication could be improved from the primary to high school level. But, the bigger problem is that the field is very plight. It’s a job that’s not well supported by governments in many parts of the world in comparison to fields like the energy sector. For that reason, many people forgo science since they cannot picture a financially dependent career emerging from it. We could try to find the best candidates and the most motivated people, and enhance science communication to create a more prominent image of careers in science. I think we could also try to increase job availabilities in science by working with the government.