The faculty celebrated Ada Lovelace Day 2019 with talks from invited guests Professor Marika Taylor, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Head of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton, and Vinita Marwaha Madill, Space Operations Engineer, Founder of Rocket Women and King's alumna. Vinita also previously worked as a contractor via TERMA B.V. for the European Space Agency (ESA).
Drawing from their personal experiences, Marika and Vinita spoke to staff, students and external guests about the visibility of women throughout their careers, and shared insight on factors of unconscious bias that often isolate women working in STEM. An insightful conversation with current Physics PhD student Emilie Steinmark explored sources of inspiration for aspiring women in STEM, and actions that can be taken to provide role models for future generations.
In reflection upon their experiences at university, Marika and Vinita spoke of on the increasing commitment made by universities towards supporting women in their respective fields, and commented on progress that has yet be made. Vinita also spoke of her time with the Maxwell Society whilst at King’s, and shared how the society’s connections shared with the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UK SEDS) helped further her professional aspirations.
A panel discussion comprising of Marika, Vinita, Emilie and facilitated by Professor Peter Main, Head of the Department of Physics and Chair of the Faculty’s Equality and Diversity Committee, opened up the conversation further, with a chance for audience members to ask questions of the panel and share their experiences. Notable points of discussion focussed upon debate on the nuances between representative and supportive role models, and generated an engaging conversation on addressing bullying and harassment.
In addition to an open discussion about how the faculty can further their support of minority groups within STEM, Peter highlighted a volunteer opportunity for students by way of Gender Action, a schools kite mark programme co-founded by King’s which seeks to challenge the limiting effect of gender stereotypes on young people.
We were delighted to host Marika and Vinita at our annual Ada Lovelace Day event. King’s is committed to improving the representation of women in STEM; we encourage open conversation about the obstacles faced by minority groups and are actively working to support our staff and students in order to address gender imbalance within the field– Professor Peter Main
Recordings of Marika's presentation, Vinita and Emilie's conversation and the panel discussion can be viewed below: