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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 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, Mathematics and Computing. Since the Suffrage Science awards started in 2011, there have been 160 holders of the heirlooms creating a network of inspirational women from across the globe.

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 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.


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