Skip to main content

12 October 2016

NMES Women in Science Week 2016

On Wednesday 5 October we held our own Ada Lovelace Day in the Faculty of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, an event to round off a week of activities to celebrate Women in Science. For the past two years the Faculty has held a number of events and activities aimed at highlighting the issues faced in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in regards to gender equality and equal representation.

I Love Ada badges
I Love Ada badges

Women in Science week began with ‘Discover Science where we welcomed over 50 12-16 year-old women from local schools to meet some of King’s College London’s most successful researchers and students.

They were given taster lectures and demonstrations from Dr. Helen Coulshed from the Department of Chemistry, on solving problems using polymers, and Dr. Wayne Dickson from the Department of Physics introduced them to the development of new nanophotonic structures and plasmonic metamaterials.

For lunch our guests were joined by members of a number of student societies, including KCL Chemistry Society and Women in STEM (WiSTEM). The students quizzed the societies on their A-level choices, career paths and plans for the future.

After lunch the students were joined by Dr. Matthew Howard from our Maker Space, the Wheatstone Lab who helped them use Lego Mindstorms to create robot art.

Discover Science was followed by the Women in Science Scholarship lunch.  Each year the Faculty welcomes new students who have been awarded a Women in Science Scholarship and previous winners to a celebratory lunch.  Students had the opportunity to meet members of the faculty, such as Heads of Departments, and those actively working on the Women in Science initiative.

For the first time during Women in Science week we held a Women in Science themed NMS @ the movies. Robert Zemeckis’ science fiction drama Contact,starring Jodie Foster entertained the audience on the evening of Monday 3 October. Contact portrays Dr Eleanor Arroway, a female scientist, leading the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, who strives to prove the existence of alien life but must work to combat the oppressive confines of institutional sexism. Dr. Jill Stuart of the London School of Economics and trustee of Messaging Extra-terrestrial Intelligence International (METI) joined Katy Clough, PhD student from the Department of Physics, in introducing the film. Katy explained the science of worm holes which are explored in the film (no spoilers!) while Jill talked about the attempts being made to send a message in to space for anyone or anything who may be listening.

Finally, Ada Lovelace Day, on Wednesday 5 October bought the week to a close.  Our keynote speaker was Kate Russell, a journalist, reporter and author who speaks regularly to inspire the next generation of technologists.  She was voted the Computer Weekly 13th most influential woman in UK IT in 2016.

Our own Dr Helen Coulshed from the Department of Chemistry, spoke about her experiences throughout her time in higher education, and how she worked to combat a culture of gender inequality.  

We were also joined by the President of the WiSTEM student society, Fatima Vayani, who explained who WiSTEM are, their mission and activities, and how they were inspired by last year’s Ada Lovelace Day to form their own society.

Professor Peter Main, Head of Department of Physics and Chair of the Faculty Equality & Diversity committee led a panel discussion on the importance of gender equality in STEM and how we can strive to achieve it. We finished with a reception that gave participants the opportunity to reflect on and discuss the issues covered over the course of the week.

Please follow the link if you would like to learn more about the NMS Women in Science initiative.

In this story

Helen Coulshed

Senior Lecturer in Chemistry Education

Wayne Dickson

Reader in Experimental Nanophotonics