ABOUT THE AWARDS
The Suffrage Science scheme celebrates women in science for their scientific achievements and for their ability to inspire others. It aspires to encourage more women to enter scientific subjects, and to stay.
The Suffrage Science scheme was founded in 2011 by the Medical Research Council’s London Institute of Medical Sciences (then Clinical Sciences Centre) on the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. It celebrates and inspires women in science, creating a self-perpetuating cohort of talent that will encourage others to enter science and reach senior leadership roles.
The awards themselves are heirloom items of jewellery commissioned from students of the art and design college, Central Saint Martins-UAL, who worked with scientists to create pieces inspired by research and the Suffragette movement, from which the scheme takes its name. The ribbons from VV Rouleaux unite women across scientific professions. The Suffrage movement is referenced with green for hope, purple for dignity and white for purity.
The scheme began with a focus on women in the Life Sciences starting with a group of 11 women. These women passed on their Suffrage jewellery onto the next cohort in 2012, and the relay continued in 2014 and every two years subsequently. In 2013, Suffrage Science expanded to recognise women in the Engineering and Physical Sciences. On Tuesday 11 October 2016, a date recognised globally as Ada Lovelace Day, the scheme expanded again, with the formation of a third specialty area. This latest addition recognises women in Mathematics and Computing. Since the Suffrage Science awards started in 2011, there have been 126 holders of the heirlooms creating a network of inspirational women from across the globe.
The beauty of this scheme is that each of the women who have been awarded the heirlooms nominate who they wish to pass on their award to every two years. Many of our award winners over the years have shared how this means so much more to them that one of their peers wants to give them recognition for their work. It also means that each heirloom creates its own 'family tree' as the award gets handed from one awardee to the next creating an international network of inspiring female role models across all the Suffrage Science branches.
ABOUT THE JEWELLERY
“I have taken this Masonic charm as a symbol of men’s power and I have given it to women.” Engraved inside the pendant are the dates 1897, 1903 and 1918. These correspond to when the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies was founded; the first Nobel prize was awarded to a woman, Marie Curie; and when British women first obtained the right to vote.”
Mathematical beauty – Engraved, on the inside curve, with what many mathematicians consider to be the most beautiful of all mathematical equations, eiπ+1= 0. The bracelet symbolises the infinite, symmetrical qualities of circles. Encapsulated inside the outer curve is a single, isolated pearl, which can move in a continuous circular motion. “I feel that my piece conveys a sense of power and strength within women.”
“The women who have contributed to science are like the nucleus, surrounded by negativity but they still break through these barriers.” The design evolved from a spherical atom-like structure into a brooch with domed magnifying glass engraved with the words ‘invention’, ‘discovery’, ‘innovation’, ‘creativity’ and ‘power’.”
Pattern of thought – Made from gold punched tape, the brooch reflects the fields of maths and computing. Punctured tape was used by computer scientists to send text-based messages, and later for storing data. The brooch is an elegant piece with a powerful message, decoding the series of holes on the brooch reveals sentences from three Suffragette banners; ‘Deeds not words’, ‘Courage Constancy Success’ and ‘Through thick & thin we n’er give in’.