Celebrating Women in Science: Leanne Aitken
According to UNESCO data (2014 – 2016), only about 30 per cent of all female students choose science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in higher education. In addition, 35.6 per cent of principal authors in medical research are women, and only 25.8 per cent are senior authors of academic articles published in high-impact journals.
Therefore, the identification, celebration, and visibility of women’s achievements can help change the narrative of women in STEM. In celebration of Women and Girls in Science Day on February 11 and International Women’s Day on March 8, ESICM will release a series of videos highlighting some of the brilliant women who are part of our ICU community. While we are aware that this is not an exhaustive representation, we hope their example will inspire other ICU professionals, researchers and educators.
We begin with Leanne Aitken, an ICU nurse whose career has taken her “across the world and back.” Originally from Australia, Leanne Aitken is a Professor of Intensive Care at City University London (UK), but her career has spanned several functions.
“I have worked in clinical, management, educational and research areas at different stages of my career. In the beginning, I was involved in clinical practice and then moved into education and research. And the joy of Intensive Care and being a nurse in the field is that I have been able to move around, have lots of different experiences, and get different types of rewards from these different roles.”
She is currently working on several research projects, all focused on improving care and outcomes for our ICU patients and, in particular, what can be improved and done differently in sedation.
For young professionals interested in working in the field of critical care medicine, she advises them to think about what they want to get out of their careers. “It is a brilliant career with many opportunities and just as many diverse roles,” she says. “The great joy for me is that you get a lot of rewards. If you’re in practice, you can see the benefits on a daily basis, while in research, you see the long-term benefits.”