IWD 2023 - Bec Bahnisch

08 March 2023

Science is in my blood” 

Meet Rebecca (Bec) Bahnisch, Metabolic Unit Head of Chemical Pathology – she’s a passionate scientist, a mother of two and the first-ever female in her role. 

Bec says three of her grandparents worked in science, as did her parents, so science felt like a natural fit. 

She has worked at SA Pathology in various roles for 17 years, starting within the Core Laboratory, and then Haematology, before finding her home in Chemical Pathology. 

Bec’s passion for science radiates through her, and she says it’s because of her natural interest in what she does. She also believes it's meaningful work and she enjoys helping patients. 

Along with her team, she is currently working on an exciting project to be released later this month, transforming pre-analytical handling of a particular test to improve patient outcomes, while also helping scientists.  

Bec says the majority of her day is spent supporting the team, making sure they’re okay and thinking of new ways to improve things they do or creating new methods altogether.  


A new legacy

She says the last 18 months as Metabolic Unit Head have been a whirlwind, but now she is more comfortable carving out her own legacy and inspiring positive change within her team and the organisation. 

While she doesn’t describe herself as a trailblazer, she recognises being the first female metabolic unit head as an important moment. 

“I’m proud to be the first female unit head, that’s working part-time, with two young kids and balancing it, so my manager and I are learning how I can be best supported. These are fresh conversations; I don’t think a lot of this has been discussed before.”  

This flexibility is something Bec feels is important as it supports people to be their best while maintaining their overall wellbeing, and she strongly supports her team to do the same by finding the balance that works for them. 

It’s a strategy that’s working well.

“Out of fifteen staff, eleven are women, many have young kids. I’d rather make things work for them; when people feel valued and supported, it’s better for everyone.”


Equity for women

Although parenting roles are much more shared than they once were, maternal bias is still one of the top five issues women can face in the workplace according to the Lean In Organisation.

Bec is happy to see a fundamental shift happening at SA Pathology.

“Things are changing, we have three women executives, and I’m proud of the culture we are building within the lab. We’re bringing forward some of the passions I’ve got - education and further training.”

This culture of support is something Bec also extends to aspiring scientists.

“My advice to aspiring female scientists is to make sure you’re seen and heard. Don’t be afraid of speaking up or feel you need to conform to a role – I certainly don’t!”

Learn more about International Women’s Day 2023. 

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