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26 Jun 2017

Female professionals share their secrets to success with students - STEMM seminar

Over 250 female year 10 students heard the secrets to success first hand from some of Australia's highest achieving women in the fields of science, information technology, engineering, medicine and maths (STEMM) during an inspiring free seminar at the San Hospital this week.

Held to help students about to choose career defining school subjects, 11 of the Hospitals female professionals shared rare insights and highlights from their lives, hoping to inspire young women to consider careers in what are often male dominated industries.

Dr Emily Granger, one of only 12 female cardiothoracic surgeons in Australia and a pioneer of the world first 'heart in a box' life-saving heart surgery, advised students to study hard, play sport and chase their dreams.

"Life is an adventure. There are so many interesting things you can do….so many intrigues you can investigate. But do plan …find out what you are passionate about and plan to chase that dream" she said.

Dr Granger remembered it was a female biology teacher who inspired her interest in science and medicine and she was happy the seminar gave her a chance to pay that forward.

"The importance of an event like this is to really open young womens' eyes to the pathways they can follow" said Dr Granger.

ENT Surgeon Associate Professor Payal Mukherjee shared that although she came from an engineering family and had an interest in arts, she really liked medicine because it involved people.

"Your life experiences will enrich you" she said.

"Your negative experiences are not pleasant when you have them but it is what makes you more human. They help you relate to patients and that is what medicine is about."

Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Michelle Atkinson said the secret to achieving and doing what you want starts with setting the goals, adjusting to failure and never listening to the negatives.

Dr Atkinson said "Don't shy away from things because you think they are going to be too hard. I encourage you all to try lots of different things and to choose subjects not necessarily for the highest mark you are going to get but because you are interested in them."

IS Operations & Infrastructure Group Manager at Sydney Adventist Hospital, Barbara Mackenzie told the students that while only 14% of the IT workforce in Australia consist of women, there is a huge opportunity for girls to lead the future of technology.

"I want you to understand that technology is not some geeky guys in the backroom, it is not the IT crowd or Silicon Valley; it encompasses design thinking and systems and solutions that change the way we interact with the world. Regardless of what career you choose, every professional career is underpinned by technology so expand your thinking about what it means" Barbara said.

Attendees included students from Abbotsleigh, Barker, Ku-Ring-Gai Creative Arts and Turramurra high schools.

Interested in paediatric medicine and wanting to work with kids, Abbotsleigh student Molly Evans was inspired.

"It made me realise that there are so many ways to achieve your goals. If there is one thing that doesn't work out for you, there are so many other career paths for you to go down."

Fifteen year old student Waiwai Yeap said the seminar would help her make her subject choices.

"The forum was really informative and solidified what kind of medical fields are out there because all these women are pioneers in the fields; I found it incredibly helpful."

Seminar speakers included Dr Emily Granger (Cardiothoracic Surgeon), Dr Lisa Robinson (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist), Dr Ann Liebert (Physiotherapist and ARI Director of Photomolecular research), Dr Lee Na Chong (Radiation Oncologist), Emma Smith (Nurse Educator SAH), Dr Hilda High (Medical Oncologist and Cancer Genetics Specialist), Associate Professor Payal Mukherjee (ENT Surgeon), Dr Michelle Atkinson (Orthopaedic / Spine Surgeon), Dr Zoe Terpening (Neuropyschologist and Manager of Strategic Planning and Operations – SAH Clinical School), Barbara Mackenzie (IS Operations & Infrastructure Group Manager, SAH) and  Dr Vera Kinzel (Orthopaedic Surgeon).

The breakfast for the seminar was sponsored by Radiation Oncology Centres.

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