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When people first meet you, are they surprised that you're a woman?

Working with people to encourage understanding and acceptance is an important part of Eleanor's work.

Sometimes, yes! They don't expect to see a woman in a position like mine; they automatically assume that people in positions of authority are men.

I never stamp my foot and act like I'm the boss. It takes patience and cultural understanding to know why people feel the way they do.

When I travel, I rely on my colleagues from other institutions to help me in these situations. But in some countries-Vietnam, for instance-many of the scientists I work with are women.