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Inspiring women to challenge assumptions

As a full-time working mother of three, Anna Campbell shares her story that throws off constraints and sheds light on the complexity of women’s lives and the power that women have.

A combination of scientific rigour, commercial acumen, and personal drive has helped her succeed in a competitive and ever-changing industry like agriculture, she says.

“I had a very strong mother in terms of her belief on what women can do.”

“I was always quite competitive and that was never discouraged. I think it was critical to my confidence that being like that was acceptable.”

“Women can be nurturing, but we can also be driven and successful.”

After completing a BSc(Hons) degree in botany and biochemistry, Anna worked with Plant and Food Research at Lincoln University on an applied PhD in plant biotechnology, followed by a post-doctoral position in Australia.

She then moved back to New Zealand after three years and started a new job at AgResearch, specialising in animal genomics, where she was six months pregnant with her first child.

Anna’s growing interest in the commercial applications of science, coupled with her “can-do” attitude saw her join AbacusBio as an independent contractor, after six years with AgResearch.

Since then, she hasn’t looked back, and is now the company’s managing director.

“Juggling work and kids is hard,” Anna reflects.

“You just have to hang in there, and it does get easier when they go to school and you get more energy.”

Anna acknowledges that there is still a lot of unconscious bias – when we think about people in science and technology, the picture is usually of the quirky male.

“We don’t celebrate strong women nearly as much as we celebrate men, and maybe that’s part of why women don’t put themselves forward.”

"We need to shoulder-tap women who, for a variety of reasons, don’t apply for senior jobs, and say to them, ‘you really need to do this’. Chances are that’s all they need.”

This article is adapted from the Ministry for Women. Read the full story here