This is a two-part answer. First, it is important that we move away from stereotypes of success. Having a career is not the pinnacle of human existence. Empowerment means freedom to choose something you really like, something that excites you and gives meaning to your life. Then you have to figure out how to make it happen for you. So my general advice, for men and women, could be summed up as “Choose with your heart and plan with your head.”
Second, academic life presents with many challenges, but women face additional hurdles rooted in implicit societal preconceptions; things are changing for the better but at a slow pace. Success in academia depends on putting yourself forward (as opposed to waiting to be asked), putting yourself first (as opposed to prioritizing the needs of others) and promoting your own work (as opposed to letting the work speak for itself). Many women feel uncomfortable with all three but overcoming these internal barriers is critical if we are to close the gender gap in academia.
Inspiring people are all around us. Every day, I am reminded of the resilience of the human spirit as I witness the great fortitude and dignity people show when faced with the many challenges of mental disorders.
Amongst the scientific community, my hero is Marie Curie and I keep a picture of her in my office. I “met” Madame Curie when I was at primary school. I read her biography, written by her daughter Eve, and I was immediately and indelibly struck by the brilliance, resilience and humanity of this woman.