‘A message of perseverance’

Women from across the University — climate and data scientists, an HIV researcher, an undergraduate chemist and a doctoral student working on cancer research — share the inspiration for their careers.

Dr. Melina Kibbe is chair of the UNC School of Medicine’s department of surgery today, but growing up, she didn’t see any women in roles like hers.

The surgeon who operated on her when she was 14 years old was a man. The characters in medical dramas were men. And many times, she was one of the only women in her classroom.

“I have had male mentors and role models my entire career. The mere fact that I did not have female role models when I was young is a problem of my generation,” Kibbe said. “It was only in the last decade as a faculty member when a couple of women have become really important role models for me.”

Dr. Kibbe consults with another female scientist

Kibbe (right) with a colleague in the lab. (Photo courtesy Melina Kibbe)

But when Kibbe became a surgeon herself, she started to find “sister mentors” — other women working in STEM.

Now, she’s sharing a message of perseverance with other young women who want to pursue similar careers.

“If I could give one piece of advice to other women who are thinking of pursuing a career in science, it is this: follow your passion, and don’t let anybody else tell you that you can’t do it,” Kibbe said.

In this video, Kibbe shares her perspective as a woman in STEM, along with other Carolina women from across the University — climate and data scientists, an HIV researcher, an undergraduate chemist and a doctoral student working on cancer research.