The lack of women today in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs is a problem. We believe with more role models and positive examples of women succeeding in technical roles, we can change this.
To honor STEM Day, we spoke with Teckro Director of Clinical Operations Cayce Drobek about why she pursued a STEM career and her advice to encourage more girls into fields of science and technology.
By way of background, Cayce studied at Middle Tennessee State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mental health and biology. She went on to complete two master’s degrees, one in microbiology and a second in clinical research.
Cayce has more than 12 years of professional experience in clinical research, working on numerous Phase I-IV trials. In addition, Cayce also worked with multiple contract research organizations (CROs) and investigative clinical trial sites, and she is a Certified Clinical Research Associate.
Now, Cayce is applying her domain expertise at Teckro, where among other roles she has managed teams responsible for the quality and accuracy of the clinical research content in the product.
Cayce, what first prompted you to go into a technical role?
I have always been drawn towards science, math and technology.
I have always been a very curious individual with a strong desire to constantly increase my knowledge. Even as a young child, I loved playing with my microscope and was always conducting experiments in the hope of making exciting new discoveries. I still love conducting experiments, trying new things, and making discoveries to solve everyday challenges in my personal and professional life.
Because of my passion for science, I studied biology as an undergraduate, and then microbiology in graduate school. While in school, I worked as a study coordinator for obstetrics and neonatology trials. In this role, I experienced many of the common clinical trial challenges that site staff face every day. I ultimately developed and rolled out new processes at the research center with the help of technology to reduce some of the burdens on the staff.
I’ve worked with multiple technology systems in my years in clinical research roles. While many of these technologies were aimed at reducing my day to day work-related burdens, there was still a need for simplification. This is Teckro’s mission, and I wanted to be a part of a solution that could really simplify how trials are conducted.
Did you have any special encouragement, or role models when you started out?
My mother is the primary reason for me pursuing a career in clinical research.
While I was in graduate school, she unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer. Caring for a loved one with cancer was extremely difficult. Thankfully, after participating in a clinical trial at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, my mother had complete remission.
I was so grateful that she had this opportunity and I’m now extremely motivated and passionate about being a patient advocate. I work to make these types of clinical trial opportunities available not only for those who have cancer but for all types of diseases and disorders.
What does a career in a STEM field mean to you?
Science is not just a job; it is a passion.
If your career is something you enjoy doing, you will lead a happier and more productive life. Working in a STEM field provides me with the thrill of new, exciting discoveries. It allows me to travel the world solving global challenges. It gives me broad, marketable skills. And I believe it increases my career opportunities, not just in biology or clinical trial-specific roles but in also roles for technology companies who need clinical trials subject matter experts.
I’ve become a better problem solver and gained a better understanding of how things work. And not least of all, it’s fun!
What advice would you give to young women considering a STEM career?
Never stop being curious!
For young women interested in pursuing a professional degree and career in a STEM field, I would recommend starting off by doing some independent research into what education and opportunities are available. You can also join organizations that advocate for girls and women in STEM, such as those listed on Girls Who STEM.
One of my favorite quotes is from Mae Jemison, the first female African American astronaut to travel into space:
"Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”
We are naturally born with a desire to understand how and why things happen the way they do. This desire drives us towards science, which provides us the path to illumination of the many mysteries of the universe.