A story in scientific excellence
For Movement Conception, Tanaya Joshi speaks with Professor Veena Sahajwalla about the challenges that face women in the field of science and the importance of programs like Science 50:50 to inspire young women and shed light on what working in the field is actually like.
Warm laughter greets me over the phone line on Thursday evening, as Professor Veena Sahajwalla settles in for an interview with me on her drive home from a busy day at work. It’s 9pm and I ask her whether she’s okay with an interview after such a hectic day, and she laughs, responding with “Yes of course! Why not? Make the most of your time, of every second!”
The positive mindset that Veena exudes is the very same one that has made her a Scientia Professor, directing the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Australia. She is a woman with a host of qualifications and awards, a list too long to even begin to summarize.
I first met Veena at the National Youth Science Forum in 2015, where she was launching Science 50:50, a program that’s designed to support and mentor young Australian women to inspire them into science careers. Her talk had left a deep impression on me, being a science loving girl myself – and when the opportunity came to interview someone that I looked up to, and who was related to my leadership quest, Veena was the first to come to mind.