Kamala Payne Chapman

“Gender and racial bias are in every facet of life, even work. I am fortunate to work for a company that is committed to women in leadership and science. As a woman, it is important to see people in leadership roles who look like you.

I was raised to believe I can be whatever I want to be. However, I’m always aware there are people out there who probably thought I couldn’t. Now, I live my life to challenge those people. I was a chartering member of a Pfizer colleague resource group, the Female Leadership Initiative Program, established so that women can develop their talent and leadership skills.

I have an informal mentor, a Puerto Rican woman at the director level. She answers questions I haven’t always been comfortable asking. Finding someone who champions me, thinks about my career moves and talks to me about being a double minority and taking risks — it’s phenomenal. She encourages me to challenge the status quo and shares examples of how she did it.

I’ve used people’s curiosity as a chance to educate. I’ve been asked, ‘Why don’t you wear your hair natural? Are you ever afraid of being stereotyped as an angry black woman?’ No, I flatiron my hair because I like the way it looks — and don’t mistake assertiveness for anger.

I always assume positive intent — unless someone says something completely derogatory. If there is negative intent, I don’t give it any value. I think that is a great attitude for any woman to have.”

R&D Scientist
Pfizer Inc.