Episode 8

Discovering Yourself as a Working Mum in Science with
Dr Charis Teh

About the guest

Dr. Charis Teh is a cancer and immunology researcher based in Australia. She holds a PhD from ANU, a Master in Public Health from the University of Sydney, and a Bachelor of Science Honours from ANU. Dr. Teh is currently a Victorian Cancer Agency Mid-Career Fellow at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Her work focuses on developing and improving life-saving cancer immunotherapy strategies using preclinical models and cutting-edge technologies. Dr. Teh is also a mother to two young daughters and is passionate about creating a healthier future for the next generation. She has been recognized for her advocacy for women in STEM disciplines and has received awards such as Superstar of STEM and 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian Australian Awards. Dr. Teh actively partners with local schools to deliver science activities in the classroom and runs scientific discovery tours to encourage young girls to pursue STEM careers.


Dr. Charis Teh is a cancer and immunology researcher in Australia. Dr. Teh shares her journey in STEM, from discovering her passion for science during her undergraduate studies to her current work in cancer immunotherapy. She discusses the challenges she has faced as a mother and a woman in STEM, including self-doubt and cultural expectations. Dr. Teh emphasizes the importance of finding mentors and building a supportive community in order to overcome these challenges. She also highlights the need for a shift in the traditional view of leadership in STEM towards a more collaborative and inclusive approach.

Key Takeaways

  • Dr. Charis Teh’s interest in health and disease was sparked by growing up in Malaysia, where she witnessed the impact of infectious diseases on her community.
  • Dr. Teh’s experience at Stanford University on a Fulbright scholarship was a significant milestone in her career, allowing her to learn cutting-edge technology and experience the vibrant startup culture in Silicon Valley.
  • As a mother returning to work after maternity leave, Dr. Teh faced challenges in balancing her roles as a scientist and a parent. She emphasizes the importance of finding support and being open about the struggles faced by working mothers.

 Find out more

 Follow Dr Chloe Lim

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    • Read this study on Brazillian scientists on how bias against parents in science hits women harder. 
    • Share resources from Women in STEM Ambassador about implementing workplace equity with evidence-based tools to support transformative action for equity in STEM workplaces.
    • Join Mothers in Science in amplifying the voices of mothers in STEMM and create evidence-based solutions to promote workplace equity and inclusion of caregivers.

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