Professor Clare Elwell of UCL Medical Physics & Bioengineering is one of 12 female scientists and engineers who will participate in the annual Medical Research Council event, Suffrage Science. The event, held on International Women’s day, March 8th, celebrates the achievements of leading female researchers in physical sciences and engineering with medical applications, while recalling the women’s suffrage movement.
Descendants of suffragist leader Emmeline Pankhurst 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. After a period of ownership, the recipients will pass on their awards to another selection of high-achieving women. Science writer, broadcaster, and member of UCL Council, Vivienne Parry conceived of the heirloom jewellery scheme, which is now in its third year.
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. Ms Parry 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, nominees also include Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Honorary Research Associate at UCL Physics & Astronomy.
In 2015 these women and their fellow nominees 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 (UKRC statistics guide, 2010). 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. The award ceremony will take place from 6.30 – 9.30 on 8th March.