No Wasted Lives celebrates women in science: brynne gilmore

5th July 2018

Never intending to get into academia, Brynne Gilmore is now a technical advisor supporting the No Wasted Lives research project CeaSurge in the north of Kenya. She is providing support, guidance, and oversight to the study. It was her experience in the academic environment that brought her to global health research.

“I was surrounded by amazing academics, who were mostly women, and who were always so supportive and encouraging”. Brynne received her Bachelor of Science from McMaster University in Canada but diverted from her initial plan to move into programming and implementation. The great support from her Master’s in Global Health community encouraged her to continue doing research, “this is where I realised that research is the best place for me to add my skills to the field of global health.”

One woman who had a strong impact on defining her career path was Brynne’s Master’s and later PhD supervisor at the Centre for Global Health at Trinity College in Dublin, Professor Eilish McAuliffe (currently of University College Dublin), who she describes as a “phenomenal force of an academic who gave nothing but support.”

“Dissemination is where I face some challenges,” says Brynne. “You sometimes feel like you’re not taken as seriously as some of the men when presenting evidence in forums like conferences and stakeholder meetings. A lot of women who are doing great work face a lot of challenges in trying to get their work recognised and appreciated.”

Brynne calls for a change in some of the systems to be more gender-sensitive: “We talk about gender sensitivity in programming but how often are we applying it to our own institutions?” When looking at women in global health, she points out the discrepancies between women and those in power within large institutions. “Female leaders are definitely lagging behind,” especially when comparing across backgrounds as “women from less resourced contexts make up such a big proportion of people working in health worldwide but hold such a small proportion of leadership roles,” Brynne adds.

She hopes that the system doesn’t only work towards equality – that women are represented - but also making sure that there are structures in place to be gender-sensitive and woman-friendly, whether that be promotions that take maternity leave into account or grants that provide more flexibility to respond to the needs of caregivers. She hopes all levels of global health work for inclusivity and intersectionality, where leadership reflects the diverse make-up of the global health field.

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