As children we are encouraged to dream big, and many young people – including young women and girls – aspire to a career in science. While there are role models at the top tiers of science combating gender bias, the jump from PhD student to lead researcher may at first seem insurmountable for many women. Students considering a career in science are told that competition for research funding is fierce, giving rise to short-term contracts and job insecurity. This sees scientists working overtime and weekends and that makes it harder to succeed if you are a female scientist and mother. This outlook can leave students questioning their future in science. But there is a way to make a successful and rewarding career in science. Our own personal stories demonstrate this.