The Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award

The Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award is made to support the promotion of women in STEM. The medal is accompanied by a grant of £30,000 for activities s/he undertakes to promote women in STEM in the UK and to support research activities. The recipient of the award is expected to spend a proportion of the grant on implementing a project to raise the profile of women in STEM and is required to give a public lecture suitable for a non-specialist audience. The call for nominations closes on 1st February 2016.

The research must be based in the UK in a scientific or technological discipline within the remit of the Royal Society. There are no restrictions on the age of nominees, but it is anticipated that the award will be made to a Recipient in mid-career with a maximum of 20 years or equivalent post PhD. Nominees who have taken a career break will also be considered.

Further details can be found via the Royal Society website


Rosalind Franklin

Understanding unconscious bias

The Royal Society has published a video on You Tube discussing unconscious bias‘This animation introduces the key concepts of unconscious bias. It forms part of the Royal Society’s efforts to ensure that all those who serve on Royal Society selection and appointment panels are aware of differences in how candidates may present themselves, how to recognise bias in yourself and others, how to recognise inappropriate advocacy or unreasoned judgement.’


Female scientists put in the picture

Athene Donald (Professor of Physics at Cambridge University) is championing a plan to introduce more portraits and busts of female scientists at the London headquarters of the Royal Society.  This is in an attempt to reverse its male dominated image. The Royal Society is planning to install busts of Mary Somerville (a 19th century astronomer, and first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society), and Lucie Green (television astronomer), as well as a portrait of Dorothy Hodgkin (received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964).

This story was covered in the Sunday Times (the full article is only accessible if you are registered with the Times), and The Herald.

What do you think?

Athene Donald (Physics Professor Cambridge University)

Athene Donald (Physics Professor Cambridge University)

The women whom science forgot

On 19th June Jawad Iqbal published this article on the BBC Science and Environment page –  The Women whom science forgot

‘A quick web search for the world’s most famous scientists lists, among others, Galileo, Einstein, Newton, Darwin, Stephen Hawking and Alexander Fleming.  One of the few women to receive a mention is Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist who basically discovered radiation and helped apply it in the field of X-rays.

The Nobel laureate Sir Tim Hunt was heavily criticised for his disparaging remarks about women in science last week, which for some raised the issue of where women stood in the scientific community. But many female scientists in the past were not given the credit they deserved for their achievements. As a result, their names have all but disappeared from public consciousness ……..’

sther Lederberg  - an American microbiologist

Esther Lederberg – an American microbiologist









The list includes:

  • Esther Lederberg – a microbilogist who undertook groundbreaking research in genetics
  • Rosalind Franklin – a biophysicist who pioneered X-0ray crystallography
  • Ida Tacke – conducted groundbreaking research in chemistry and atomic physics
  • Lise Meitner – her research led to the discovery of nuclear fission
Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin













Jawad Iqbal notes that ‘the Royal Society, swift in its condemnation of Sir Tim’s remarks, was founded in 1660 and has yet to elect a female president.  Some say that the comments from Sir Tim, a prominent fellow of the society will damage the efforts it is making to improve diversity.  It has been reported that only 6% of its fellows (a prestigious title in the world of science) are women.  That statistic, some say, sums up the scale of the wider problem of the difficulties faced by women in the scientific world’

What do you think?  Have any female scientists in your field of research disappeared from public consciousness?

Female science writers celebrated

‘A Royal Society discussion has considered the behind-the-scenes and often neglected roles that women have long played in the advancement of science. Held on 10 March to tie in with International Women’s Day, “Women Writing Science” brought together three historians to explore and celebrate the major contributions made by women even at a time when the doors to universities, learned societies and laboratories were largely closed to them.’

The full article in the Times Higher by Matthew Reisz can be seen here –


Gender split on fellowship scheme ‘unacceptable’

In an article published on the 2nd March 2015 in the Times Higher, Holly Else examines why ‘the Royal Society has not been able to find any reason why so few women were successful in securing awards from one of its fellowship schemes in 2014.’  In 2014 only 2 of its 43 University Research Fellowships went to women.

The full article can be seen here –