Holly McDede of the San Francisco Bay Guardian presents how various individuals and organizations in the Bay Area are offering opportunities to women of all cultures into the biotech industry.
“Nexgene Girls (was) launched by Bridge to Bio graduates Jeanette Wright and Marlena Jackson. Through Nexgene Girls, young girls in Bayview-Hunters Point complete internships where they work alongside professional scientists and conduct their own experiments, like extracting DNA from bacteria in the salt marshes of Heron’s Head Park. By 2015, Nexgene Girls is looking to take a science field trip to Botswana.
Before Jackson became a scientist, she drove a school bus. In Hunters Point, where she grew up, breast cancer rates among women under age 50 are twice above average.
“I looked around and I thought, ‘I’ve got to do more’,” Jackson said. “You look around at the divisions in Bayview Hunters Point, and science seems like a way you can really change the community. My mother survived breast and cervical cancer. I know the power of medicine.”
After graduating from Bridge to Bio, Jackson got a job at Genentech in 2006. At that time, there weren’t many African Americans employed by the company. “I looked around, and I realized there weren’t many women that even looked like me,” she said. “That was how I started thinking about how I could go and give back to my community. I wanted to inspire young women to see themselves differently.”