The European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) recently hosted a landmark event aimed at fostering leadership skills among women in science. The inaugural Women in Leadership Workshop took place in Rotterdam, Netherlands ahead of the EACR 2024 Congress, and brought together 25 women in their first independent position as a PI.

Advice for those starting out

One of the highlights of the workshop was an inspiring talk by Susan Galbraith, Executive Vice-President of Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca. Susan shared her career journey, offering invaluable insights and advice to those just beginning their paths in science. Her story underscored the importance of resilience, determination, and the willingness to embrace challenges.

Addressing challenges in leadership

A panel discussion delved into the unique challenges women face when ascending to leadership positions in the scientific community. The panel, comprised of distinguished leaders from various scientific disciplines, explored topics such as gender bias, work-life balance, and the importance of mentorship. The discussion provided a platform for sharing strategies and experiences, highlighting the need for systemic changes to support women’s advancement in science.

Interactive role-play sessions

The workshop also featured innovative role-play sessions conducted with professional actors. These sessions allowed participants to engage in simulated leadership scenarios, honing their communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills in a safe and supportive environment. The interactive nature of these sessions was instrumental in helping the attendees develop practical skills that are crucial for effective leadership.

Building a network of peer mentors

One of the most significant outcomes of the workshop was the establishment of a robust network of participants. This network is designed to facilitate ongoing support and peer mentorship, ensuring that the connections made during the workshop extend far beyond the event itself. By fostering a community of like-minded individuals, the EACR aims to create a sustainable support system that empowers women to continue growing and succeeding in their careers.

What some of our participants had to say…

“I really liked the environment created. I felt confident to share my own experiences and opinions. Also, it was great to obtain such important feedback from reference women in science.”

“The real-life experience that senior women leaders on the field relayed was precious and made me feel understood in current similar challenges.”

“The content of the workshop was relevant to my current role and career because the content targeted early leaders. Susan gave a very insightful TED talk that applied to my current position also in Biotech. I appreciated the time afterwards to ask the entire panel questions.”

Looking ahead

The success of this inaugural workshop has sparked plans for future editions. The EACR is committed to continuing this initiative, recognising the profound impact that such programmes can have on the professional development of women in science. Future workshops will build on the foundation laid this year, incorporating feedback and new ideas to further enhance the experience for participants. Thank you to everyone who took part!

Sign up to the Congress mailing list to be among the first to know when the 2025 workshop launches!