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International Women's Day: Dismantling barriers faced by women in STEMM

Please join us online for a lecture and panel discussions to celebrate International Women's Day (IWD) 2023.

IWD celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. Our speaker Professor Rachel Oliver and panel will be exploring the barriers still faced by women in science research.

Talk title: 'Who gets to do research? Equity in STEMM viewed through a funding lens'

Guest speaker: Professor Rachel A Oliver, Professor of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge


  • Professor 'Funmi Olonisakin - Vice President (International, Engagement and Service)
  • Lorraine Kelly - Director of Organisational Development/ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Priyanka Jorge - President of Womxn in Physics student society
  • Alexandra Epshtein - Vice President of Womxn in STEM student society
  • Meg Illingworth - Co-president of Womxn in STEM student society
  • Charlie Leong - President of Women in Computer Science student society


  • 14:45 - 15:00 Registration/check-in
  • 15:00 - 15:20 'Who gets to do research? Equity in STEMM viewed through a funding lens’ - talk by Professor Rachel A Oliver
  • 15:20 - 15:40 Panel discussion
  • 15:40 - 16:00 Q&A

Abstract: 'Who gets to do research? Equity in STEMM viewed through a funding lens'

Governments worldwide are committing more funding for scientific research in the face of the ongoing pandemic and climate crises. However, the funding process must be restructured to remove the significant barriers arising from conscious and unconscious biases experienced by minoritised groups, including women, and particularly women of colour.

On International Women’s Day, Professor Rachel will discuss her experiences of fighting to make the shocking data around research funding inequality widely available, and how those experiences inform her recommendations for potential strategies to reduce these inequities. She will also advocate for both qualitative and quantitative analysis of diversity issues in grant funding, by not only research funders but also academic institutions, calling for action to co-create initiatives with minority communities to broaden access to the research ecosystem.

Addressing these issues is fundamentally a question of fairness to women and other minoritised colleagues, but it is also important to note the increasing evidence that more diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones. Recognising and taking responsibility for addressing the inequities in our current systems has the potential to benefit all scientists, as well as broader society.

Her research on these issues was published in Nature, you can read the paper here.

Headshot photo of the guest speaker Professor Rachel Oliver

Speaker bio:

Professor Rachel A Oliver is a Professor of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge. Her research interests focus on the characterisation and exploitation of nanoscale structures in GaN-based materials. The broad aim of her work is to achieve improved performance in GaN-based electronic and optoelectronic devices and to develop and implement novel device concepts. Professor Oliver was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (FIMMM) in 2019. She also held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship from 2006 to 2011. In 2021 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

At this event

'Funmi  Olonisakin

Vice President (International, Engagement & Service)

Event details

The Exchange, Bush House North East Wing
The Exchange
Bush House North East Wing, Aldwych , WC2B 4BG