By Dr Ndalinoshisho Liita-Iyaloo Cairney
ON Thursday (November 10), I will be a guest speaker at this week’s Careers Hive at the National Museum of Scotland at the invitation of Edinburgh Science. Careers Hive aims to challenge the common misperception of Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (Stem) subjects, such as mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics. The aim of Careers Hive is to inspire young people to explore the myriad of options that Stem subjects offer as a potential future career.
I consider myself an academic entrepreneur. I am the founder of firstperiod.org , which is a digital education platform that teaches young women how to engage with their menstrual cycle from a position of individual self-empowerment. My approach to educating young women is grounded in academic research on the intersections between adolescent brain development, reproductive health knowledge, and social confidence. I developed the “Harness Your Menstrual Cycle” education framework, after I invented an ergonomic reusable menstrual hygiene device (KOREE registered trademark), while I was a PhD student in International Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh.
As an entrepreneur, I am also a scientist. I piece together variant strands of my formal and informal education, and grasp concepts as necessary to help me advance the business vision that I have for my menstrual health innovations.
As an entrepreneur, I trust my instincts. For me, trusting my instincts has meant learning to recognise that, sometimes, my mind sub-consciously processes information and then categorises that information for me in a cognisant way. The trust in my instincts comes from a willingness to let go and accept that I am not always going to grasp everything that I am learning, as I am learning it… yet, I have learned that if I expose myself to a learning environment, I have to trust that the information that I carry from being in that learning environment will come out when I need it.
As an entrepreneur I expose myself to different circumstances and I am interested in different types of people. I then trust that the right information will come to the surface and produce revelations and inspirations for me as I wrestle with my entrepreneurial questions.
On Wednesday, I plan to tell the Careers Hive audience that I am now confident in my abilities to categorise social, scientific and financial information as an entrepreneur because I am confident in my grasp of basic arithmetic skills of categorising and computing information. I will tell the Careers Hive audience that entrepreneurship has given me the opportunities and mental space to stretch my imagination and make intellectual connections in creative ways that give meaning to my life as a woman and a mother. This is the same message that I will seek to impart in my role as Entrepreneurship and Innovation Trainer to students and staff associated with the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.
Careers Hive is a schools-only event at the National Museum of Scotland. There is a public Open Day on Saturday, November 12.
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By Dr Ndalinoshisho Liita-Iyaloo Cairney