Margie Peden: International Women's Day 2019 Profile

Margie Peden has been an injury epidemiologist for 26 years – 17 of which were at the World Health Organization building a strong team of injury prevention diplomats. Specialising in injury prevention and trauma care, she joined The George Institute for Global Health in 2017 to lead the Global Injury program.

Margie was first exposed to the health sector as an intensive care and trauma nurse in South Africa.

“During this time, I became convinced that there was some way we could prevent violence and injuries ‘upstream’ so I went back to university and did an epidemiology degree and moved into prevention.”

Margie believes it is crucial that injuries be systematically included with other non-communicable disease initiatives.

“Injuries are predictable and therefore preventable - looking at the issue holistically, not just focusing on the human and their behaviour, will save lives.”

“There should be more focus on adolescent health, and adolescents should be involved in designing interventions. More innovative and experimental work should be conducted in Africa so that appropriate and specific injury prevention interventions can be rolled out and included in health policy.”

For other women thinking about getting into medical research, Margie has some simple words of advice.

“Just do it! It will help if you can find a female mentor who will support and guide you.”

She believes better representation of women on all grant and fellowship boards is necessary for the research sector to become more gender balanced, and calls for a shift in the way we think as a society.

It all starts with children. We should challenge the stereotypical games we play with girls. More science, technology, engineering and mathematics games should be developed and aggressively marketed by the private sector.”

“Awareness among parents should be raised to encourage more girls to be interested in the sciences at school and then hopefully progress on to university. Equity between the sexes with regard to post-graduate jobs in this area would also be helpful, as would a clear career path that doesn’t discourage motherhood.”

Reflecting on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #Balanceforbetter, Margie believes we all have important roles to play.

“To me, balance means equal opportunity on one side and equal accountability on the other.”

Read more from Margie on Twitter at @margiepeden