Scientists and science communicators have joined forces to showcase the diversity and range of career opportunities available to women in science
On 18 October 2012 a calendar was launched to raise money for projects that break down gender stereotypes and encourage young women and girls to see science as an enriching, exciting and productive career choice. It features 13 stunning images of scientists and science presenters including Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell and Tomorrow’s World’s Kate Bellingham. ScienceGrrl Calendar 2013 showcases the real face of female scientists, with photographs that demonstrate the impact of their work. Three engineers on a London rooftop overlook a striking cityscape, showing the structural impact of STEM all around us. A medical physicist explains her work to a busy group of colleagues and a patient in University of Manchester’s PETCT scanner. In Bristol, an epidemiologist is surrounded by a blur of pedestrians as she examines data for a link between cannabis-smoking and mental health.
Several of the images also feature men, to show that science is for everyone and in reality, men and women work alongside each other as equals. Dr James Logan, entomologist and presenter of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies is shown working alongside female colleagues, and BBC Horizon presenters Dallas Campbell, Dr Kevin Fong and Dr Adam Rutherford display portraits of female scientists who have inspired their careers. The calendar shows that science belongs to neither gender, but to us all.
In 2010 the UKRC/WISE reported that women form only 12.3% of the skilled workforce in science, engineering and technology1. In a press release, published after this years’ GCSE results were announced, the Campaign for Science and Engineering said: “More boys than girls take GCSEs in science subjects. This year’s rise in ‘triple science’ has been helped by students of both genders taking more science GCSEs, but in each of biology, chemistry, and physics, the rise for girls (27,206 more pupils, or 13.6% higher) has been bigger than the rise for boys (25,654, or 11.2% higher).”2 This is encouraging news, but more must be done to redress the balance.
ScienceGrrl, a determined and diverse group of scientists lead by Dr Heather Williams of Central Manchester University Hospitals, have created a calendar crammed with beautiful photographs of their science. The careers shown are diverse: from solar cell chemist to Curator of Modern Physics to performers Helen Keen and Helen Arney, whose stage shows are based around scientific topics and themes.
The calendar is being sold to raise funds for initiatives that will help girls and young women engage with STEM subjects and realise STEM careers. These include the development of Breakthrough: the gender stereotypes project, which aims to challenge gender stereotypes through tailored school lessons; funding places at the Mission Discovery summer school for young people - the majority girls - who would otherwise be unable to attend; and enabling teams of university science students to take part in the iGEM synthetic biology competition.
Founder and Director of ScienceGrrl, Heather Williams said: “ScienceGrrl celebrates what female scientists are already doing and encourages girls and young women to follow in our footsteps - and achieve even greater things. The 13 images in the ScienceGrrl Calendar 2013 can only showcase a small part of the fascinating and valuable work undertaken by the diverse range of women in STEM, but it is a beautiful introduction to the female face of science.”
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Manchester and President of the Society of Biology is taking part: “I am delighted to take part in an innovative project such as this which aims to support women in science.” she said. “There are far too few women in some disciplines in science and particularly in senior positions - I want to tell younger women that it’s great to be in a leading position, fun as well as very rewarding.”
The calendar is produced by Louise Crane, who was behind the sell-out Geek Calendar 2011 that raised £16,000 for the Libel Reform campaign.
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