- Role Model -

Helen Scott


Name: Helen Scott

Occupation: Epidemiologist

Employer: Pinnguaq and PMNCH, World Health Organization

Education: PhD, Epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto; MSc, Epidemiology, Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen's University; HonsBA, Psychology and Health, Queen's University; BSc, Life Sciences, Queen's University

Hometown: Lindsay, ON

Current community of residency: Lindsay, ON

What does your typical work day involve?

Mornings - Working (from home) at PMNCH, World Health Organization. I start early due to the time zone differences Afternoons - Working (from home) at Pinnguaq in Lindsay, Ontario I spend most of my days on my computer and about 50% of that time in Video meetings. I also travel a lot for work. Typically, I travel to Toronto or Ottawa twice/ month; and on international trips a few times each year.

What do you love most about your profession? Why did you choose this career?

As an epidemiologist, I am passionate about analyzing, integrating, and sharing data to advance the solutions to complex challenges in community health. As a collaborator, I cultivate partnerships that empower organizations to deepen their impact, reach, and relevance in order to drive progress and mobilize for collective action.

When did you realize you wanted to work in STEM?

I have always loved sciences and the connection between sciences and politics/ communications. This passion is what inspired me to pursue studies in health and data.

What were your favorite subjects in school?

I loved all the subjects! But, I probably enjoyed history and social sciences the most.

What advice would you give girls, who are still in school, who might be considering a career like yours?

Girls and women sometimes steer away from careers in sciences because they want to "work with people." In spite of having highly technical skills, I work with people almost all day, every day! There are a lot of really interesting jobs in STEM, and you might not even know that the job exists. (I certainly did not know what an "epidemiologist" was when I was in high school.)

Why do we need more women in skilled trades and STEM?

In most businesses and boards that I work with, men still hold the top positions. The only way that we are going to be able to overcome the gender barrier is if more women pursue these careers.

Who was your role model? What about this person inspires you?

Dr. Dorothy Shaw was the Vice President of BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre, an obstetrician and gynecologist. I have known her for about 15 years. She gave me so many great opportunities to grow my career when I was early in my career and she helped to guide me throughout. (She still gives me great advice!) I hope that I can help others the way that she supported me.

What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies/activities?

I have 5 kids and they are a LOT of fun! We camp, ski, bike, play all sports, renovate houses, spend a lot of time with extended family. I also love to garden and study nutrition. I have a weightloss coaching business (weightlossmasterclass.ca) that I do 'just for fun!'

What superhero do you relate to most? Why?

I do not really watch TV or movies, so I don't know my superheroes very well. I am inspired by women who are great leaders in real life.

Anything else you wish to share?

You are the creative force in your life. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't. Just do it and show them you can. And, have fun while you are at it.


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