Women and Girls in Science 2024

panellists from women and girls in science event

Loughborough University recently marked the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science by bringing together female scientists from across the University in an event on campus on Wednesday 14 February.

The event was attended by Member of Parliament for Loughborough, Jane Hunt MP, who was able to draw on her experiences of being a woman during her time at university, in industry and in politics during her closing remarks. During these remarks, she paid tribute to the five panellists, who she said offered a broad perspective of the successes they have achieved and the barriers they have faced being a woman in science.  

International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which was held on Sunday 11 February, promotes the full and equal participation of women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. This day has been observed since 2016, after the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that the day will be held annually on 11 February. 

In opening the event, Dean of the University’s School of Science, Professor Claudia Eberlein, stated that it is crucial that we encourage future generations of girls into science and emphasised the importance of this in the face of a shortage of women working and studying in STEM subjects.  

The panel was made up of Professor Lara Alcock, Professor Georgina Cosma, Dr Sarah Bugby, Dr Pooja Goddard and PhD research student Agnes Bokanyi-Toth. They discussed how they began their careers working in STEM subjects, each offering different perspectives and advice they would give to women at the early stages of their careers. Many of the inspiring stories highlighted that the journey and challenges experienced by women differ from what their male counterparts will have faced throughout their career. 

While acknowledging that there has been progress since many of the panellists began their career in STEM subjects, there was a consensus that there was still some way to go to reach true parity. The contributors were open in discussing the barriers they have faced – and still do – being a female in science. These challenges were experienced at different points in their careers – and quite often only recognised with the benefit of hindsight.  

There was an opportunity for attendees to have their photograph taken after the event, and for their portrait to be added to Loughborough University’s Women in Science page, which highlights women working in STEM subjects across the University.  

Following the event, Professor Claudia Eberlein said: “It was great to see such a well-attended event. The real-life stories presented by the panel were truly inspiring for the audience and many commented on how helpful they have found the event and the networking opportunities it provided. We are most grateful to Jane Hunt MP who gave a fantastic summary voicing lots of support for women pursuing challenging careers and flavouring this with anecdotes from her own experience.” 

“Despite a lot of progress in recent decades, women remain sorely underrepresented in many areas of science and technology and there is a stubborn gender pay gap that is particularly high in those disciplines. This event made a small but good contribution towards giving female staff and students more confidence and some real-life advice for pursuing ambitious careers in STEM while getting support for their endeavours when required. I would like to wholeheartedly thank all participants, contributors, and organisers.” 

Thank you to everyone that attended the event.