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Engineering and Physical Sciences 2019: Scientific heirlooms awarded to leading female scientists

Leading female scientists and engineers awarded scientific heirlooms by their peers at the fourth Engineering & Physical Sciences Suffrage Science Awards on 8 March 2019.

With the core STEM employment sector increasing by 6.3% from 2017 to 2018 at more than 6 times that of overall employment in the UK, it is safe to say that the sector is fast growing. However, the percentage of women in core STEM occupations actually dropped from 23% in 2017 to 22% in 20181. This is certainly not the direction we want to be going, and re-emphasised the need to recognise leading and pioneering female scientists and engineers across industries. Within engineering the challenge is even greater as women make up less than 11% of the sector in the UK. With a large skills gap looming and the need for a more diverse workforce, it has never been more important to inspire and encourage more people, especially women, to choose a career in engineering.

On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019, 12 female scientists and engineers from across the world will be presented with hand-crafted jewellery at the Suffrage Science Awards ceremony, held at The Royal Society, London. The awards celebrate women in science and engineering and encourage others to enter science and reach senior leadership roles.

The 12 awardees are chosen by the previous award holders for their scientific achievements and ability to inspire others. The awards themselves are items of jewellery, inspired by the Suffrage movement, and are passed on as heirlooms from one female scientist to the next.

Alongside the awards, science writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry will lead a discussion on the ‘Needs and Challenges in Engineering and Society’ with Babylon Health CTO Caroline Hargrove, BAFTA nominated science presenter Fran Scott and current Suffrage Science awardee and Reader in Polymer Bioelectronics, Rylie Green.

The Suffrage Science scheme was initiated by Professor Dame Amanda Fisher, Director of the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) in 2011. Amanda says:

“Now in its eighth year, these heirlooms create a self-perpetuating network of talent and contacts to help others succeed in science and engineering. This year’s awardees join a community of over 120 women scientists. Since 2011 the awards have travelled from the UK, across Europe to the USA, Hong Kong and to Uganda, illustrating the international nature of science and engineering, and the global effort to improve female representation.”

The 2019 award winners are:

Professor Moira Jardine, University of St. Andrews, UK

Dr Sarah Harris, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Roisin Owens, University of Cambridge, UK

Professor Tiny de Keuster, Universiteit Gent, Belgium

Professor Karen Holford, Cardiff University, UK

Professor Serena Best, University of Cambridge, UK

Dr Tara Garnett, University of Oxford, UK

Dr Isabel Palacios, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Professor Amina Helmi, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Professor Sue Kimber, University of Manchester, UK

Professor Marzieh Moosavi-Nasab, Shiraz University, Iran

Professor Melinda Duer, University of Cambridge, UK

Each previous holder chooses whom they want to pass their heirloom onto. Below are reasons for two of the nominations:

Professor Marileen Dogterom, Delft University of Technology on their nomination of Professor Amina Helmi, University of Groningen:

“Amina’s ground-breaking discoveries on galaxy evolution and dynamics, particularly our own Milky Way, manage to inspire many outside her own research area, including myself. She provides an excellent role model to young female scientists.”

Dr Marta Vincente-Crespo, St Augustine International University on their nomination of Dr Isabel Palacios, Queen Mary University:

“I am honoured to pass this Suffrage Science award to Isabel. I cannot think of any woman who has had a bigger impact in my scientific career, so this is to say thank you for making me a better scientist and a better person.”

The current award holders (2017) were:

Professor Lyndsay Fletcher, University of Glasgow, UK

Dr Sarah Staniland, University of Sheffield, UK

Dr Rylie Green, Imperial College London, UK

Professor Kerstin Meints, University of Lincoln, UK

Professor Sheila Rowan, University of Glasgow, UK

Professor Cathy Holt, Cardiff University, UK

Professor Sabine Gabrysch, Universitat Heidelberg, Germany

Dr Marta Vincente-Crespo, St Augustine International University, Uganda

Professor Marileen Dogterom, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Professor Sheila MacNeil, University of Sheffield, UK

Dr Zohreh Azimifar, Shiraz University, Iran

Professor Sharon Ashbrook, University of St. Andrews, UK

The jewellery was created by art students from Central Saint Martins who worked with scientists to design pieces inspired by research and the Suffragette movement, from which the award scheme takes its name.

We look forward to welcoming 12 more inspiring women into our Suffrage Science community.

This article was originally published here.

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