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Dialogue@ZJU: With Professor Sue Welburn, Executive Dean of the ZJU-UoE Institute


Editor’s Note: In this enlightening edition of Dialogue@ZJU, we are honored to feature Professor Sue Welburn, Executive Dean of the Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Institute (ZJE). Her remarkable journey from the Tsetse Research Laboratories in Bristol to her pivotal role at the University of Edinburgh, where she established the Global Health Academy in 2009, showcases a relentless pursuit of excellence and impact. Her research, which has significantly contributed to the understanding of the transmission of human sleeping sickness, is complemented by her hands-on involvement in disease control projects across Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, and Tanzania. In her conversation with LI Min, ZJU’s Director of Global Engagement, Professor Welburn delves into her experiences and insights on women in science and leadership, illuminating the challenges and opportunities faced. Her story is not just one of scientific endeavor but a beacon of inspiration for women scientists aspiring to make a difference in the world of academia and beyond.

Quotes from the interview with Professor Sue Welburn:


- There is a certain point in your career, probably five or six years, where you have this opportunity to make a fast trajectory in the progression of your career. Unfortunately, men inherently have an advantage in that window of opportunity, as women are burdened with a lot of the caring responsibilities and societal pressures to have children.


- I would never want anybody to think that I've got to where I am today because I'm a woman. I want to be recognized for what I can do.


- I would like to see institutions give free childcare for women. I think that would really help. I believe that offering the opportunity of free and accessible childcare is beneficial as it prevents you from wasting half your day driving twenty minutes to go and pick a child up. You can visit during the day, and you could feel that you're not giving up something to do something. You love your children, and you love your job. You shouldn't have to be compromising on that.


- I think mentorship schemes are really important. In Edinburgh, we have an Athena Swan Charter, which supports women at all levels through their career development. I would like to see more of that.


- You can make life easier for yourself by having good collaborations, having people working with you, being generous, and sharing information.


- You should think there's no limit to what you can do. In my experience, the biggest thing holding women back is thinking that they're not good enough. You're definitely good enough. You're more than good enough. The only thing stopping you from achieving your goals is your own insecurity.