In support of International Day of Women and Girls in Science we invited several members of the TRANSNET Programme to chat about their chosen career paths. Here’s PhD researcher Wenting Yi from the Optical Networks Group at UCL.
Wenting Yi is a third year PhD student under the supervision of TRANSNET Co-I Professor Robert Killey. She works on coherent and direct detection optical transceivers for long-haul and short-reach links, focusing on advanced signal formats and digital signal processing. Wenting has been a member of TRANSNET since 2018.
How were you encouraged to follow a career in STEM?
During my undergrad, I was inspired by my supervisor. I had been working with her very closely for almost 3 years, from small research projects to my final-year project. She’s influenced me in many ways, from my enthusiasm for scientific research to sharing knowledge and balancing life and work. I always hoped I could be at a similar stage when I get to her age, and so here we are….
What’s the hardest part about doing a STEM-based PhD?
When we talk about achievements and progress in science and engineering, it’s very exciting and I’m proud to be working in this field. However, the day-to-day work and research can sometimes be very challenging and even frustrating, so I think the hardest part of a PhD is keeping your spirits up and not becoming discouraged when things don’t quite go to plan. You have to keep in mind that, in the end, the work will get done and it will be satisfying to complete.
How do you think we can achieve better gender equality in science?
I still remember when I joined the (Optical Networks) group, I was the only female PhD student… Things are getting better now and we have more female students and researchers joining us. Being aware of this gender inequality is the first step, and trying to support diversity and inclusion whenever possible.
For the younger generation, it’s important to get them familiar with science and engineering at an early age, and to build up their interest. At the last It's All Academic Festival, Tom (a former PhD student) and Callum (a current PhD student) hosted a lab tour and there were quite a few young female students who were very interested. I think it is a very positive sign!
What are your interests outside of science and research?
I’ve got really into baking recently thanks to lockdown!
What’s your advice for girls or young women thinking about a career in science?
YOU GO GIRL!
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is implemented by UNESCO and UN Women, and works in collaboration with worldwide governmental, institutional and societal partners, to promote women and girls in science. The purpose of the day is to encourage full and equal access to participation in science for women and girls.