Dr Annie Keane writes for Northern Soul about some of the events showcasing women in science taking place at Manchester’s Science in the City Festival.
It’s incredible to think that, even today, women are still severely unrepresented in jobs relating to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Currently women only hold 15 per cent of science jobs, while in engineering this drops to 9 per cent. A survey last year found that a third of British school girls don’t believe they are clever enough to become scientists.
Manchester’s Science in the City festival is designed to inspire everyone, from the next generation of scientists to anyone of any age with an interest in the world we live in. But another ambition of this festival, which sits alongside the ESOF (EuroScience Open Forum) conference, is to encourage more girls and young women to consider careers in science. The festival reflects the hugely diverse and fascinating world of science and technology, and our programme features many inspiring women including leading scientists, researchers, writers, performers and artists. We hope that the programme of great talks, shows and exhibitions will inspire girls and young women to develop their interests and careers in science.
While some events have already happened (Gaia Vince, British environmental journalist and first female winner of Royal Society’s book prize was at the festival, as was the Exploding Women show by comedy duo LipService, Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, on July 23, which exlored the lives of five of Manchester’s finest female boffins; Kathleen Drew, Queen of seaweed; Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw, Rubik’s cube expert; Caroline Birley, fossil hunter; Marie Stopes, palaeobotanist and Dame Margaret Beckett, metallurgist), there is still a huge amount to see and do over the week of the festival, including a talk by Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Kew Gardens (July 26).
At the festival base, Number 70 Oxford Street, three prominent Royal Society Research Fellows will discuss The Next Big Thing, their work at the forefront of science. This event, hosted by Dr Emily Grossman, will profile some of the most extraordinary and visionary research work being undertaken in the UK. Panellists include Lucy Weinert, specialist in emerging infectious disease epidemiology, Katherine Joy, lunar astrophysicist and Nike Folayan telecommunications engineer.
At Cane & Grain, on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter, on its first-floor, Science and Industry Bar audiences can learn about the Science of Cocktails. There will be a demonstration of mixology with a cocktail maestro and expert chemist from Manchester Metropolitan University. Afterwards, there will be the opportunity to network with prominent female scientists. Tickets cost £10 and will include two cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and finger food.
Also part of the Science Lates series, Dr Emily Howard will celebrate the life of the first computer programmer and pioneering mathematician, Ada Lovelace, daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron, whom she never met. Born in 1815, Ada died of cancer at just 37, and was buried beside the father she never knew. During her relatively short life she became known as a scientific visionary and even produced a design for a flying machine when she was just 13-years-old. The dramatic and interactive short operatic work, Ada Sketches, will be performed at the Royal Northern College of Music on July 27.
We really have an impressive line-up of women and I hope their passion for science will encourage a new generation of female scientists to follow in their footsteps.
By Dr Annie Keane, Director of the European City of Science Programme
For more details of the Science in the City Festival programme visit: manchestersciencecity.com/science-in-the-city-festival or follow @sciencecity2016