BrownBag Event Recap: Don’t let the bastards grind you down

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Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down: On Being a Female Leader with Dr. Claire Cupples

SFU Brown Bag Lunch Series – Event Recap

Date of Event: Jan 22, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Claire Cupples, Dean of Science & Faculty of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry (MBB), SFU


It is a common knowledge that there is a scarcity of women in leadership roles. Drawing from lessons learnt from her important events in her life, Dr. Claire Cupples gave an engaging talk of her experiences as being in a leadership role: what it is to be a woman leader and how to navigate the barriers being in a fairly male dominated world.

“When you encounter unpleasant situations, learn from it so that you can be better equipped to deal with it next time”. In her leadership role, she advises not to judge your team/group as homogenous instead knowing where they are coming from helps to deal with them better. She did point out the concern that female students are treated very differently than male counterparts. Her take on that is: one has to adapt to dominant culture, to stick up for yourself and keep working at it.

She also stressed the importance to keep one’s unique personality and sticking to it. Being a leader is not without a lot of responsibility so she stressed the importance of having a good support team who would listen to you and provide the moral support when you are in a leadership role.

Her advice:

  • If you are not sure of what you want, one should keep going on and in her case she chose to pursue education and that helped her in a big way.
  • If you are stuck in a place for a long time, try something new, get out of campus.
  • Knocking on doors gets you somewhere rather than sending out your resumes, so network and get to know people.

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