Female scientist advocate for gender equality

April 09, 2023 - 09:52
Dr Lê Thái Hà, an economist and Managing Director of VinFuture Prize, is the only female Vietnamese scientist on Elsevier's list of the top 100,000 most influential scientists.

Dr Lê Thái Hà, an economist and CEO of VinFuture Prize, is the only female Vietnamese scientist on Elsevier's list of the top 100,000 most influential scientists. Trương Khánh Linh speaks with her.

Inner Sanctum: You have published over 70 scientific research papers. What motivated you to conduct and write so many studies?

ACCOMPLISHED: Economist Lê Thái Hà – Photo courtesy of Lê Thái Hà

I always enjoy doing research and learning new things, as my main motivation derives from my passion and unquenchable curiosity for economics. Ideas for my research often come to me at the most unexpected moments, and I don't want to miss the opportunity to explore them. However, I also dread the submission and revision process, so to avoid wasting time, I often start working on other research while waiting for feedback.

Inner Sanctum: During your scientific research, as a woman, have you encountered any difficulties?

Indeed, women face certain challenges while conducting scientific research. Perhaps the most significant challenge is achieving a work-life balance. Research projects can sometimes demand a substantial amount of time and effort, resulting in pressure and a negative impact on personal life. Meanwhile, women often need to devote time to their families, caring for their parents, spouses and children.

I'm in the same boat, especially after having a child. I feel obligated to spend a lot more time with my family. That's why I always try to find a balance by organising my time and working reasonably. In my spare time, I usually hang out with my family and take care of my kids.

Inner Sanctum: What do you think of the opinion "Science is a field that only men can do"?

I believe that the assertion is entirely erroneous and unjust to women. By maintaining this stance, we risk disregarding the abundant talent and potential contributions that women have to offer in the scientific realm.

I strongly advocate for the promotion of equal opportunities for both men and women in science, as it will undoubtedly foster diversity and innovation in the scientific community

I hope that we will continue to show respect and support for women in science, and refrain from imposing any gender-based limitations or discrimination. Only by treating everyone fairly and providing equal opportunities can science fully and comprehensively develop, bringing benefits to the entire community.

Inner Sanctum: Could you offer any insights or recommendations for young women aspiring to pursue an academic career?

Those who choose to pursue an academic research path, especially young women, may encounter various challenges and difficulties, particularly during the initial stages of their career. However, with passion and perseverance, I am confident that they will reach their goals.

The first step is to define your objectives clearly in pursuing academic research. With this goal in mind, you can create a well-defined and specific study plan and establish key milestones to track your progress. To achieve success as a researcher, it is essential to possess deep expertise in your subject area.

In academic research, relationships and connections play a significant role. Thus, you should actively search for research communities that relate to your field and engage with them.

Moreover, to succeed in academic research, one must demonstrate determination and perseverance. Accept failure as a natural aspect of the learning process and prepare yourself to overcome it.

Inner Sanctum: You completed your doctoral thesis in a record time at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. What motivated you to achieve this?

I successfully completed my PhD in two years due to my hard work and dedication, as well as the unwavering support of my family, advisor, and some good luck. My passion for my research field is what drives me to overcome obstacles and challenges encountered along the way. I always set clear goals for myself and remain fully committed to seeing them through.

INSPIRER: Capturing Lê Thái Hà in her element. Photo courtesy of Lê Thái Hà

Inner Sanctum: Why did you choose to work for VinFuture Prize after 10 years of research and teaching?

The VinFuture Prize recognises researchers and innovators who have made remarkable contributions to human and social development through their scientific research. I firmly believe that science and technology hold the key to solving the world's problems and improving the quality of human life.

Thus, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in research projects and practical applications that can help improve the lives of people and contribute towards sustainable development for future generations. Additionally, being a part of the VinFuture Foundation provides opportunities to connect and learn from prominent experts across the globe.

Inner Sanctum: Do you have any plans or new areas you want to explore this year?

In 2023, I am eager to delve into and research environmental, social, and governance (ESG) - an increasingly important and highly regarded field in the business and finance world.

It's an intriguing field with enormous potential for growth, particularly in the current climate when there is heightened attention on environmental conservation, ensuring social justice, and augmenting corporate accountability.

I am convinced that researching and developing ESG solutions will make a positive contribution to society and the community's sustainable growth, while also delivering financial advantages to businesses and investors. As a result, I'm thrilled to explore and make a contribution to this field. VNS