The researcher

Krysta Coyle, 27, from Canada is a Ph.D. candidate researching breast cancer biology

022017_Canada_ Krysta Coyle International Women's Day WAGGGS


“My mum was diagnosed with cancer when I was younger. She’s been cancer-free for 10 years and she’s doing well. When she was ill, I saw how valuable the field of research can be. I realised if I combined it with my love of science, I could make a real difference.

“Now, my day-to-day-life is as a Ph.D. candidate in a science lab. I work on optimising treatments for breast cancer, as well as using a variety of tools (think micropipettes, microscopes, and math) to look at how cancer cells respond to these drugs.

“By night, I am a Girl Guide volunteer. I work with Guides (9-11 year olds) and Rangers (15-18 year olds). I help them try new things, connect with community resources and encourage them to step outside their comfort zone.

"The skills learnt as a Guide have helped considerably as an adult. Through Girl Guides, I had the opportunity to build tangible leadership skills such as organisation, risk management, conflict resolution, and the skills needed to work with diverse teams of individuals. However, the personal growth I have experienced as a Girl Guide has helped me become an even stronger leader. I have developed a wide range of communication skills, a fierce independence and the self-confidence to be assertive and speak my mind on issues that are important to me.

“During my studies, I was often told I could never be successful. This resulted in many ‘no’s and many doors shut in my face. It was disheartening to hear well-respected leaders say I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to get ahead, and I was discouraged for a long time. Guiding helped me build my self-confidence and turn those no’s into fuel for my fire. I have worked hard and did what I was always capable of doing – and have started to prove those naysayers wrong!

“It is easy to be discouraged because women are still underrepresented in scientific fields, and the gender gap keeps increasing as I look up the ladder. Discrimination still exists and there’s a way to go, however Girl Guides has helped me use my voice to advocate for myself and others, to call out inequities in scientific fields, and to identify strategies to make change.

“I love my studies and although there have been setbacks, I wouldn’t change it for the world. In my job, two days are rarely the same. I have to think on my feet, adjust my plans and make sure I am always using the most current information and appropriate tools available to me. I love that science requires flexibility and resourcefulness, and that curiosity is encouraged!

“For other girls who want to go into science, believe in yourself! There will always be people saying, ‘No, you can’t.’ Find the voice inside of you – even if it is small to start – that says 'Yes, I can.' I have always found that small successes help me build the confidence to try something bigger. Take risks and make mistakes. This has allowed me to learn new things from new opportunities.

“Finally, stay inspired by your female role models. What I admire most about the women surrounding me is their courage to be themselves, and I am inspired to be an individual. I admire my mother’s courage in the face of fear, Malala Yousafzai’s courage in her convictions, Michelle Obama’s grace under pressure, while the global Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting movement provides no shortage of role models. I can only be myself – but I hope I can demonstrate even a tiny part of each of these amazing women.”

#GreatGirlLeaders

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“Girl Guides has helped me use my voice to advocate for myself , call out inequities in scientific fields and identify ways to make change”

Krysta Coyle
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