Women in STEM, global humanitarian advocate shares her story

Cécile Godde is passionate about the challenges relating to agriculture, food security and global change, at the farm level as well as in a national and global context. Through her research at CSIRO and UQ, she wants to have an impact on decision making so that we feed the world more sustainably and equitably.

One year on from winning the 2018 Queensland Women in STEM Prize Jury’s Choice Award, Cécile Godde talks about the day she received the award and how it opened many doors and allowed her to share her passion for sustainable food systems and gender equity within the wider community.

Last year, I got the incredible opportunity, together with 80 other female scientists from all around the world, to participate in the world-class leadership, strategic and science initiative: the Homeward Bound Program, which culminated with a month of intensive training in Antarctica.

Cécile Godde, participant of the largest ever female-only expedition to Antarctica, as part of the Women in Science and Leadership program Homeward Bound.

The day I came back from Antarctica, I was quite nervous about the idea of opening my mailbox, as I had been offline for so long. I am glad I did because, among the couple of hundred emails, I had a message that I was a finalist of the Queensland Women in STEM prize, for my research on sustainable livestock production.

So that’s me (photo below), completely jet lagged, back to civilization and back to reality. Have you heard of the leaky pipeline in science? These types of awards and other mechanisms that increase the visibility of women are required from time to time. In addition to helping us raise our profile, these awards are also a great opportunity to highlight achievements of women in STEM to young women, who may not normally consider studying or working in STEM.

Cécile Godde receiving the 2018 Queensland Women in STEM Prize Jury’s Choice Award for her research on sustainable livestock production. Prize handed by Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Science, and the Arts Leeanne Enoch MP and Minister for Women Di Farmer.

On that day, I felt very honoured and grateful. I also felt a strong sense of responsibility, because I know not all girls and women are provided with the emotional, physical, intellectual and financial support that I am, but they are voices our world needs, more than ever.

The Queensland Women in STEM Prize taught me a lot about the value of getting out of my comfort zone and being visible to others. As a result of it and other prizes I received that year (CSIRO Next Generation Directors Award, UQ Postgraduate Student of the Year, QAAFI Excellence Award), I have been contacted by fascinating people from various fields of work, from researchers and teachers to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and industries. All these connections have broadened my research approach to food security and global change and helped me shape my vision, purpose, and values.

A leaky pipeline

I was also invited to share my passion on radio, at festivals (e.g. WOMADelaide, World Science Festival Brisbane 2019) and importantly with other young women at schools and at the Government STEM Girl Power Event. I keep being amazed by the passion and drive of the next generation.

While I am immensely happy and honoured to promote STEM, I can’t help myself using the science talk medium to remind young women that they’re incredible just the way they are.

If we want a transformational change in our society, I strongly believe we should try not to mimic the behavioural and thinking styles that are in place, and in which many of us don’t feel comfortable. It’s more than time to embrace our individuality, diversity and reflect on our dreams and values.

Follow Cécile’s journey:

Website: cecile-godde.com

Twitter: @CecileGodde

Facebook: @CecileGoddeSTEM

Applications are now open for the 2019 Queensland Women in STEM Prize. Click here to learn more or apply.

The 2019 Queensland Women in STEM Prize is presented by Queensland Museum, Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist, Office for Women and BHP Foundation. Winners will be announced in March during World Science Festival Brisbane.