Celebrating Women In STEM, With Alanna Mullan

Challenges Faced By Women In STEM, with Alanna Mullan

As part of international Women’s Day we are celebrating Women in STEM and the challenges they face within their careers. 

Alanna Mullan is a PhD student at the University of Liverpool in Nuclear Physics and Engineering. She is the STEM and Outreach Lead at the Nuclear Institute NW and a previous intern at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Incident and Emergency Centre in Vienna. You can reach her at a.mullan@liverpool.ac.uk or www.linkedin.com/in/Alanna-mullan  if you want to volunteer at the Nuclear Institute or find out more.

What challenges have you faced as a woman within your career?

Doubt, disbelief. From others but also from myself. I got heckled in the first year of my physics degree after asking a question in a lecture, ‘this is why women don’t study physics’ and it’s stayed with me. Sometimes you need to take a minute to take stock and to look at what you have done and be proud. I am so guilty of just moving on to the next milestone, and not really celebrating the history of achievements. I recently have even tried to take count of the history of failures and celebrate those too, because those failures lead to those achievements.

Who is your female role model?

I think my female role models are the women lost to history, who accomplished much but did not get the recognition they deserved. They did it knowing full well that it was unlikely that they would get any credit. They did it for the science, and that I think is beautiful.

What advice would you have for future generations?

I’ve said this before many times but get involved. Volunteer, attend tea mornings, careers days. You will meet people who will shape your life for the better, even if just in passing. It is so good for the soul to be surrounded in like minded people, whether that be confident or kind or ambitious. I felt like it was really uncool to get really involved during my undergraduate studies, but I regret all that missed opportunity now.

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