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Women Behind PHOENIX: Mangala Srivinas

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting just a few of the many women behind the scenes at PHOENIX-OITB. This interview series takes a look at their career paths, frustrations and inspiration.

Prof. Mangala Srivinas (CENYA)

Job title: Co-founder and CSO of Cenya Imaging BV

Role in PHOENIX: PI in PHOENIX, working with the spin-off, which is a test case for the project


Tell us a bit about your position and your role in the PHOENIX?

I joined PHOENIX-OITB through my spin-off company, Cenya Imaging BV. I am a co-founder, and the CSO of Cenya and a PI in PHOENIX. I am also full professor and Head of the Dept. of Cell Biology and Immunology at Wageningen University and Research. When I joined PHOENIX, I was also Chair of the Young Academy of Europe. (I have now completed my term there.)


How did you end up where you are? Was it a straight path or did it take you along many curves?

It was definitely a bumpy and uphill path! I struggled a lot with settling on an academic position or one in industry (not that it is always a choice!), and now I have a hybrid role, which I really like. I spent some time working for a large MNC, and a year working full time for Cenya, but my career has been largely academic, and it was a big step (for me) to get a tenured Professorship.


What is the best part of your job?

The variety, the people, and the possibility that something I do may end up helping a lot of people.


Who are your role models?

At the moment, Michelle Obama. She openly discussed her struggles with balancing her career and identity, with those of her husband, while also taking care of her kids and family. Her quote, “When they go low, we go high” is one of my favourites.


Has sexism affected your career trajectory?

Without a doubt. Sexism is (and continues to be) an obstacle to managing a career with small kids. I was also involved as a PI in an EU project on gender equality, which makes it abundantly clear that women (and other minorities) are at a disadvantage. Unconscious bias (including my own) and the unequal distribution of care activities need to be addressed.


Do you have tips for dealing with sexism in the workplace?

Remember that 80% of people feel like imposters, and this does not go away as you climb the ladder. So, remember that you’re not the only one!


What advice can you give to young women contemplating a career in your field?

There will be ups and downs. Don’t expect a clear path. At the same time, remember that not everything has to be 100%: often “good enough” is truly enough.


Interested in learning more about the unequal weight of care responsibilities in academia? Read Mangala’s publications on the topic: