Changing the world is gender neutral. If the work is good, the science sound, and the mission successful, then women stand just as solid of a chance to make an impact on the world.
The Women in Science and Entrepreneurship (W.I.S.E. KC) event at the Stower’s Institute for Medical Research, featured Dr. Doris A. Taylor. Throughout her impressive career, Dr. Taylor pioneered the research and application of regenerative medicine for chronic diseases like heart disease. Her novel approaches to cardiac repair have produced several firsts in the field and positioned Taylor as a thought leader in this space. She teaches her students, “Don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box.” A product of this thought process is developing a unique method to remove cells from organs unsuitable for transplant. This leaves an intact scaffold of extracellular matrix for STEM cells to populate, resulting in organs suitable for transplant.
Dr. Taylor explained that heart disease kills approximately one woman every minute and affects 5 times more women than cancer. On a national level, only 12 studies out of 5500 had participants report gender. Meaning that the data is useless when trying to isolate differences to better treat both genders. This approach must change, or treatments will never appreciate significant gender differences in treating heart disease in women versus men.
Dr. Taylor also offered her perspective on women advancing to higher positions in STEM fields. There are unconscious traits that women sometimes make to undermine their careers. She said, “You learn from others, it won’t always be easy, you won’t always be given credit, and you won’t always get what you deserve. So, figure out why you are doing it and what motivates you each day and make more of that.” As a woman you will have to be smarter, faster and better than those around you to succeed. There are three “M’s” she illustrated for women in the workplace; mentorship, meetings, and motherhood. She asks her colleagues to find a mentor or be a mentor, show up to meetings, and motherhood sometimes hinders the availability for opportunities and needs to be appreciated.
Changing the world is difficult, but it is more so if we aren’t bringing young career-driven women into the room to ask different questions, and into the lab to take a different approach. We need to inspire these questions and uncover these different approaches for all our benefit.
The event was presented by Missouri Cures and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI).