In the Year of Celebrating SG Women, we present stories which showcase and celebrate women’s multi-faceted contributions and progress at SNEC and SERI.
Join us to honour and acknowledge our team of amazing women who have made impact in the field of Ophthalmology, inspiring those around them with their brand of ethos in life.
Assoc Prof Eranga VithanaDirector, Laboratory Translational Research, SERIHead, Ocular Genetics Research Group, SERI
Being a woman and a HOD — do you feel these two roles are contradictory?Actually, no. My leadership style has always been egalitarian; I don’t ‘see’ gender when interacting intellectually or academically. I can be a hard taskmaster — I expect to see the competence people claim to have when they work with me. However, I am generally kind and fair, and appreciate honesty and integrity. Throughout my career, I was fortunate to not have been treated as a ‘woman’ but respected as a fellow scientist by all my colleagues.
Who were your role models?Over the 27 years in Ophthalmology, I’ve met many leaders in my field, both male and female. The first decade of my career was spent at UK’s Institute of Ophthalmology, where I learnt what to do and what not to do as a leader. After moving to Asia in 2004, I’ve met numerous female clinicians who made an impact on my outlook on female leaders; in particular, there were several senior female clinicians from India who epitomised the power and grace that command the respect of both male and female colleagues from all stratas.
Have you ever felt that work would be easier had you been a guy?There’ve been times when I wish I were a clinician, but never a guy! Being a wife and mother working in science gives me a more balanced outlook. I would say the greater challenge was learning to be a mother to my children, especially during the height of my career. It helps to have a very evolved husband, who is secure in his masculinity and can deal with my ego. I’ve also been fortunate to have formed strong friendships with a few female colleagues, who have been of great help at various points in my career. I think it is particularly important for female leaders to seek affirmation from her sisters in the industry.
In five to 10 years, what do you hope to have accomplished?I am passionate about mentorship and balanced, equitable scientific partnerships between Scientists and Clinicians. I am also passionate about translational/ bench-to-bedside research. I hope to make some significant impacts on these areas.
here to check out the Women of Vision series.
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