• Suffrage Science

Engineering and Physical Sciences 2013: Launch

Updated: Sep 16

The MRC Clinical Sciences Centre celebrates the achievements of leading female scientists at its annual event, Suffrage Science. Now in its third year, the event to be held on International Women’s Day (March 8th 2013) will honour 12 female scientists in the fields of engineering and the physical sciences, as applied to medicine. Descendants of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, great-granddaughter Helen and her daughter Laura, will award the women bespoke heirloom jewellery, reminiscent of the specially crafted jewellery received by noted women of the suffrage movement. The ceremony will take place in the tearoom of the Waldorf Hilton Hotel, echoing suffrage meetings held in tearooms across the country.

Bringing together the arts and the sciences, the heirloom jewellery will be designed by students at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The designs will be showcased at a pop-up exhibition during the event, which will also launch the unique, keepsake publication Suffrage Science: 2013, comprising interviews with the nominated women scientists. Science writer and broadcaster, Vivienne Parry, who conceived of the heirloom jewellery scheme will also host a debate on whether Nobel prize-winning physicist Marie Curie would have made it as a woman in science today.

As Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, commented at the inaugural launch of Suffrage Science: “A successful career in science is always demanding of intellect, hard work and resilience; only more so for most women”.


Representing the women who are at the forefront of science today, our nominees are:


Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (Director of Science Innovation Ltd)

Professor Dame Athene Donald (Professor of Experimental Physics, University of Cambridge)

Professor Clare Elwell (Professor of Medical Physics, University College London)

Professor Susan Gathercole (Director of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge)

Professor Dame Julia Higgins (Emeritus Professor of Polymer Science, Imperial College London)

Professor Eileen Ingham (Professor of Medical Immunology, University of Leeds)

Professor Dame Sally Macintyre (Director of the MRC Social and Public Health Science Unit, Glasgow)

Dr Jennifer Nichols (Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge)

Professor Petra Schwille (Director of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry)

Professor Molly Stevens (Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine, Imperial College London)

Professor Kathy Skyes (Professor of Sciences and Society, University of Bristol)

Professor Lesley Yellowlees (President of the Royal Society of Chemistry)


In 2015 these women will pass on their heirloom jewellery to the next group of excellent female scientists and communicators, in a bid to encourage them to make their way to the top. Recent reports suggest men are six times more likely than women to work in science, engineering or technology (1). The tradition of passing on the heirlooms aims to promote a future where more women stay in science and pursue leadership roles.

Suffrage Science is supported by Imperial College London, the Medical Research Council, L’Oreal and the University of the Arts London.

1 Women and Men in Science, Engineering and Technology: The UK Statistics Guide 2010, by the UKRC

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