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International Women’s Day 2024: Women in STEM

08 March 2024

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Today is International Women’s Day! A day to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness of gender equality.

At the end of last year, we launched a campaign showcasing members of the Norwich Research Park community. For International Women’s Day 2024, we asked some of the women featured in our campaign and the Anglia Innovation Partnership (AIP) CEO, Roz Bird, about the importance of women in STEM and other industries and the women who inspire them. This is what they had to say:

Roz Bird, CEO of AIP (the science park management company on Norwich Research Park):

“Firstly, why shouldn’t women, including diverse women, take part fully in all aspects of life. If we don’t have diverse men and women at all levels, in all kinds of jobs and playing their part in society then there are barriers to entry. We need to identify the barriers and remove them so that everyone has the chance to flourish, to reach their potential.

Secondly, diverse teams are better because they bring a wide range of perspectives which is crucial when a team is trying to solve a science problem or a business problem. It is also important in new product design where there maybe multiple markets for a product. Having a wide range of views and perspectives means a team is more likely to identify all the opportunities.

Thirdly, we want all the best young people at school today to come and work in our industry and young people need a wide range of positive role models – I don’t think they necessarily need ‘to see it to be it’ but it helps.

Passionate people with conviction inspire me. People who believe in what they are doing and want to make a difference. I have had the privilege of working with a great number of women who have inspired me including; Julia Muir who set up the Automotive 30% Club, Soraya Jones, the Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at UEA, Fiona Pawley who ran Formula Student and is now a business well-being coach, Prof Sheng Qi, Professor of Pharmaceutical Material Science and Technology, School of Pharmacy and Associate Dean for Innovation (Faculty of Science) at UEA and Prof Anne Osbourn, group leader at the John Innes Centre.

I love working in the science park development sector because I get to meet and support amazing companies that are all trying to make a positive difference. As with many of the sectors I have worked in, it is male dominated but better than say surveying, construction, engineering, automotive and motorsport where I have spent a lot of time.”

Rosaria Campilongo, CEO and founder of PfBIO:

“Women working on campus in Science/STEM not only enriches and contributes to our scientific knowledge but also creates a more diverse and inclusive environment where innovation can flourish, inspiring others along the way.

Women contribute to the scientific community by bringing different points of view, approaches, and skills.

My science and biology teachers inspired me during my early education, and also most of the women in science (doctors/professors) I have encountered during my university studies. They transmitted their passion for science to me through teaching and lecturing, providing insights into their research projects and experiences. Their inspiration sparked my curiosity and desire to pursue a career as a researcher myself.”

Sami Sciuto, Coloration QC lead at Colorifix:

“Colorifix has been a unique work place within my scientific career as 50% of our team are women. Having equal representation has encouraged new perspectives and nurtured creativity more than any other role I’ve ever been in. After being actively discouraged from entering STEM as a child, working in an environment surrounded by such driven and remarkable women continues to inspire me daily. Empowering more young women to seek a STEM education encourages more diversity in research, innovation, and approaches to the challenges that surround us.”

Natassja Bush, Managing Director at Inspiralis:

“For me the importance of having women in science is about having diversity in science. Having diversity in science, including having more women in science, means that there is diversity in how problems are approached and solved. I feel that diversity generates more creativity, breaks down bias and increases inclusivity, and this in turn creates a more collaborative environment. And collaborative environments in science always yields the best results.

There are so many amazing women that have inspired me and continue to inspire me daily, both within my peers and women I have not met. In particular, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Professor Claire Thompson, Indra Nooyi and all those women who came before me, who fought to have careers in science and on whose shoulders I now stand.

Most of the women I know who have careers in science were inspired to get into science because they were awed by the natural world and wanted to learn more about it, they loved the subject at school and were inspired by a great teacher. Or they loved science and wanted to have a meaningful impact on society and there are so many ways science does that.”

Sheng Qi, Professor of Pharmaceutical Material Science and Technology, School of Pharmacy and Associate Dean for Innovation (Faculty of Science) at UEA:

“I think that it is important to inspire, educate and nurture good scientists and their sex does not matter. My mum and my daughters are women who inspire me through their determination, courage and fun attitude towards life in general!”

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