Marie Curie featured

Inspirational Quotes: Marie Curie | Physicist, Chemist & Pioneer in the study of radiation

Marie Curie featuredMarie Curie is remembered for her discovery of radium and polonium, and her huge contribution to the fight against cancer.

After her mother died and her father could no longer support her she became a governess, reading and studying in her own time to quench her thirst for knowledge. She never lost this passion.

Her sister offered her lodgings in Paris with a view to going to university, she grasped the opportunity and moved to France in 1891.

She immediately entered Sorbonne University in Paris where she read physics and mathematics – she had naturally discovered a love of the subjects through her insatiable appetite for learning.

It was in Paris, in 1894, that she met Pierre Curie – a scientist working in the city – and who she married a year later.

The Curies became research workers at the School of Chemistry and Physics in Paris and there they began their pioneering work into invisible rays given off by uranium – a new phenomenon which had recently been discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel.

In 1903 Marie and Pierre were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics jointly with Henri Becquerel for their combined, though separate, work on radioactivity. In the same year, Marie passed her doctorate thesis in Physics.

When World War I broke out in 1914, Curie suspended her research and organized a fleet of mobile X-ray machines for doctors on the front.

After the war, she worked hard to raise money for her Radium Institute. But by 1920, she was experiencing health problems, likely because of her exposure to radioactive materials. On July 4, 1934, Curie died of aplastic anemia — a condition that occurs when bone marrow fails to produce new blood cells.

Curie was buried next to her husband in Sceaux, a commune in southern Paris. But in 1995, their remains were moved and interred in the Pantheon in Paris alongside France's greatest citizens. The Curies received another honor in 1944 when the 96th element on the periodic table of elements was discovered and named "curium."

Below, we look at some of Marie Curie's most inspirational quotes:

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."

"One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done."

"A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales."

"Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas."

"I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy."

"There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth."

"It is my earnest desire that some of you should carry on this scientific work and keep for your ambition the determination to make a permanent contribution to science."

"I am one of those who think like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries."

"I have frequently been questioned, especially by women, of how I could reconcile family life with a scientific career. Well, it has not been easy."

"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child."

"You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful."

"I am among those who think that science has great beauty."

showing girls or women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics against a green background with symbols including equal sign, cog, cloud, graph, stars and a beaker

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: How to support women in STEM

It’s no secret that there remains a significant gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) industries.

Dr Shirley Knowles, ProgressWomen make up only 24% of those in the sector, despite progress in recent years. As Dr Shirley Knowles, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at Progress points out, not only are women put off joining the sector, they “are often paid less and don’t get the same level of recognition as their male counterparts,” once in it.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science serves as a timely reminder that making STEM industries a more welcoming place for women requires significant effort from individuals  and organisations. With that in mind, we spoke to women working in science and technology to get their tips on supporting women in the sector.

From small acorns… 

Studies have shown that gender stereotyping starts young, with less girls taking STEM subjects at GCSE and A level. In order to get more women into the sector, organisations have to develop and support initiatives that will address this, and encourage more girls to consider this path.

Nicola Aitken, Ascent“Studies have shown that gender stereotyping starts as early as primary school age where books and language begin to shape how girls and boys “should” think, look, and behave,” highlights Nicola Aitken, Microsoft Business Manager at Ascent. “They pick up cues from the language they hear, the images they see and the expectations placed on them. Their family and friends, the media and familiar settings such as their playgroup will all influence how children interpret gender. This has to change.”

“A few years ago I supported a local (to me) primary school (alongside other parents) to raise funds to build a science lab, known as The Discovery Hub. As a result all children within the school – and other schools in the area – had direct and easy access to science and technology. To my mind, it all starts at the grass roots level with our children.”

Samantha Thorne, Head of People at Node4, agrees with the importance of supporting young girls, highlighting initiatives at Node4. “An ongoing shortage of tech talent in the UK makes bridging the gender skills gap an absolute priority and reaching out to girls and women about the opportunities available to them is a critical part of our talent strategy. Our engagement with local schools and colleges provides work experience and placement opportunities to GCSE and Computer Science students, recognising the role our industry has to play in keeping girls and women engaged in STEM subjects, helping them to imagine the possibilities and career paths available to them, and realise their potential.”

Aitken concludes: “The full impact of initiatives like International Day of Women and Girls in Science may take some years to be felt. But, as they say, from small acorns mighty oaks grow.”

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Challenging recruitment bias

Other than investing in the youth, one of the most important things an organisation can do to improve their gender balance is to review their recruitment process. Many organisations may be inadvertently putting women off with their recruitment processes, or find that those recruiting have hidden biases that are leading them to hire more men.

Caroline Seymour Zerto“Employers should make sure that they understand gender-balance data in their company,” Caroline Seymour VP, Product Marketing at Zerto suggests. “Create gender-neutral job descriptions, ensure women are part of the interviewing team, ensure that interview rounds include diverse candidates, conduct regular pay equity reviews to attract and retain candidates, offer mentorship and advancement programs and lastly regularly evaluate hiring and promotion processes to eliminate bias.”

Hugh Scantlebury, Aqilla_HROpening up recruitment also means broadening the scope of recruitment outside of the traditional focus on academics and CVs, adds Hugh Scantlebury, Founder and CEO at Aqilla. “It’s not just about academic success. We also need to champion women who have a natural affinity for science-based subjects, but don’t have formal academic qualifications — and support them in their prospective careers. There’s more than one path to success in this sector, and we need to make sure that we’re open to them all.”

Developing female leaders

Investing in and supporting women once they are in the sector is just as important as getting them through the door. Thorne explains that at Node4 they “have a focus on the retention and development of women already working within our organisation, through participation in leadership programmes and ensuring our policies, benefits and culture continue to support women’s full participation in the workplace.

“Releasing that potential gives businesses a huge competitive advantage when it comes to addressing the digital skills gaps and delivering real innovation – Tech is only ever as effective as the perspectives and insights that inform its development; we are committed to doing everything we can to influence real cultural change in this area, such that girls and women don’t just take a seat at the table but are credible contributors and influencers in the creation of solutions and approaches that deliver exceptional service to our customers, and lead innovative technological advances in support of the next phase of our development.”

Getting more women into leadership roles has the added benefit of providing visible role models for younger girls – further encouraging them into STEM. Scantlebury points to the recent visibility of women like Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert who led the AstraZeneca research and development programme. “With inspiring women like Dame Sarah to look up to, we can expect – and hope – to see this skills base continue to grow in the UK from GCSE up to graduate and postgraduate level.”

Aitken adds that, “as growing numbers of women demonstrate they can be successful in science and engineering, more role models will be created, and sexist stereotypes about women’s ability and interest in this wide-ranging field will erode. I wholeheartedly look forward to that.”

“Let’s think about Rosalind Franklin or Katherine Johnson or Mae C. Jemison – look at the impact they have had on the world,” concludes Dr Knowles. “It shouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think there are even more women like them out there, ready to be acknowledged, rewarded, and invested in. That’s why this day is so important – to help us remember.”

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Experts discuss gender diversity in the technology industry


The International Day of Women and Girls in Science presents an opportunity for organisations in the technology industry to reflect on their efforts to correct gender imbalances.

Fortunately, the industry does seem to be starting to move in the right direction. ONS statistics from last year reveal that the number of women working in technology has continued to increase, with 31% of UK tech jobs now held by women. While the industry is not there yet, it is starting to show signs of improvement.

With that in mind, a host of tech experts have shared their thoughts on the importance of encouraging young females to pursue STEM subjects in school, and some of the stereotypes that need to be banished in the sector:

Diverse hiring is now a necessity

Edwina Murphy, Director, Public Cloud Management, Sungard AS, believes International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an opportunity for companies to reflect on their commitment to inclusion. She said, “Companies should use International Day of Women and Girls in Science Day to consider if they are on track to meet their diversity and inclusion goals. Self-reflection is key, so companies should consult their employees on a consistent basis, asking them what they think needs to change to make the workplace more inclusive. Business leaders must also remove unconscious biases – a far-reaching societal issue that is certainly not exclusive to the tech industry. This starts with the hiring process, removing biases by ensuring that there is a diverse group of interviewers in charge of decision- making. As such, the technology industry can start to improve on its gender imbalance issues and more women will be encouraged to pursue a career in the field.”

Dr. Lucy Mackillop, Chief Medical Officer, Sensyne Health, takes a similar stance and also believes a diverse hiring process is crucial. She argues, “There is no doubt the life sciences industry is diversifying, but there is still room for improvement. At Sensyne Health, we have strong ambitions to provide more support to women in these roles, we have a huge part to play in diversifying the science and technology industry. I believe this begins with more diverse hiring, as businesses focus on employing individuals with different views and experiences to ensure their work and workplaces are as inclusive as possible. With a diverse workforce we will be able to drive innovation across all spectrums of healthcare, helping to discover treatments for illness and disease that affect a broader range of individuals, regardless of their geographies, ethnicities, gender and ages. This in turn will enable us to be part of enabling better patient care for all.”

Early education is key

EJ Cay, Vice President, UK and Ireland, Genesys, believes young girls should be encouraged to participate in STEM subjects as early as possible. “International Day of Women and Girls in Science Day is important to me as it’s a reminder that gender equality in these fields is essential for building a better future. Without more women and girls in STEM, the world will continue to be designed by and for men, while the potential of girls and women will remain untapped. As such, we need to encourage women and girls to both study these subjects and transition into the workforce. We must also create places for women that ensure their careers are not strewn with obstacles and enable them to build a work-life balance that fulfils. This will open so many doors for other women to be inspired by technology in the same way I have.”

Karen Worstell, Senior Cybersecurity Strategist, VMware, concurs, saying educational institutions must make STEM subjects accessible to everyone. She explains, “When I was determining what type of career I wanted to pursue, I was lucky to have access to educational and extracurricular resources that made it possible for me to be at the forefront of an emerging field like cybersecurity. For future generations of women in STEM to help break the glass ceiling, we need educational institutions to foster this kind of support and access to young people across all socio-economic levels regardless of gender, ethnicity, or geography. Businesses must also recognise that the pipeline of tech talent at the moment is fragile and more must be done to hire, retain and develop talent.”

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Changing the perception of technology workers

Mairead O’Connor, Exec for Cloud Engineering, AND Digital, says there is evidence of progress being made and that the perception of technology workers is slowly shifting. She says, “The tech industry is still very much misunderstood: the age-old image of the solo coder working in a basement is far from reality. The most underrepresented skills needed are teamwork, communication, creativity and pragmatic problem-solving. I’d love to see businesses understand more what they need from their tech roles, and work hard to get the right people in them. A computer science degree can be a great route into a tech career, but it’s definitely not the only route. I studied sciences at university, but some of the most insightful technologists I know have studied humanities, or learned their skills outside of university.”

Lori MacVittie, Principal Technical Evangelist at the Office of the CTO, F5, agrees and puts forward that fundamentally, STEM has a brand problem. “There is a stereotype of the type of women who work in these [STEM] roles. We might think of introverts and people that wear all black and no heels, but that’s just not the case! Whatever kind of woman you are, what you wear or what personality you have, is irrelevant. There’s a role for you. And this is a message I am trying to promote amongst my peers.”

Roisin Wherry, Data & Technology Specialist, Grayce, agrees and also recognises the importance of nurturing diverse talent in the field through mentoring schemes, saying, “Being a self-taught female coder, I wholly sympathise with the ‘pale, male, and stale’ stereotype that has long impaired the tech industry.

“With this in mind, I advocate others to create space for a diverse range of people in the tech and data sector. These can either be through peer-to-peer support or helping those exploring the industry develop more confidently. In my current role, I hold regular coffee catchups, social activities, study groups, coding clubs, and chat on Slack. This creates a community of support where Analysts of all levels help each other with client interviews, technical advice, help people settle in, and even deliver technical training.”

Be brave and be heard

Caroline Grey, Chief Customer Officer, UiPath, concludes the overall sentiment by saying her message on International Women and Girls in Science Day is, “Girls, take a risk, put your hand up in class and ask your question if something is not clear and stay open to giving and receiving feedback. Later, when you grow up, apply for that job you’ve always wanted but are not sure you are good enough for. Let’s all enjoy pursuing the opportunities that open up with being women in tech. We deserve our place. The authority gap is real but the movement to closing it is picking up. Be proud of your diverse self. We need you!”

Young asian female chemists with senior caucasian chemist working together in lab, looking into microscope, Women in STEM

Career advice for women wanting to work in the chemistry sector

Young asian female chemists with senior caucasian chemist working together in lab, looking into microscope, Women in STEM

By Heleen Goorissen, Director of Innovation & Technology, Avantium

The chemistry industry often has a perception of being very industrial and even boring, or people working in this sector need to be very science-oriented to have a successful career.

These reasons often deter people, and women, in particular, from wanting to pursue a career in this area. What most people don’t realise is that working in chemistry involves a lot of creativity and can help make a broader difference in society.

Unleash your creative side

Science in general has the reputation to be dull and abstract.  But without creativity or diversity of thought, we wouldn’t see the incredible innovations in the world today. For those people who are looking to recruit new employees and the next generation of scientists, my advice is to expand your search pool and look for candidates with a wide variety of backgrounds. By including others that have a different perspective, it can lead to better ideas, innovations, and ways of working. Diversity is key! For those who are looking to get inspired for a career in chemistry, don’t be afraid to be creative. Surround yourself with different types of inspiration, like going to an art event, visit museums, or attend a concert – it’ll help fuel your ideas and your thinking.

Don’t be afraid to take risks

As difficult as this may seem, I don’t believe in planning for the next 10 years. Reality will often be completely different. Also, planning so far in advance may close your mind to opportunities that may end up accelerating your career path. Follow your intuition and experience everything for yourself – you don’t want to look back and regret anything.

Additionally, inform yourself as much as you can while embarking on your career journey. Whether that is attending open days, networking events, or setting yourself up with a mentor, surrounding yourself with a robust support network can help provide guidance, especially when you come across any challenges. I owe a lot of my success to people who believed in me and gave me challenges even when I thought I wasn’t ready for them. This is why it is important to give people chances to challenge themselves and excel, as well as giving them the support they need to thrive.


If you ever feel stuck or unsure of what your next path is, look to find a coach to help identify your strengths and where you can look to grow. Also, please be kind and honest with yourself by setting your priorities. By figuring out what is truly important, whether professionally or personally, you can achieve your goals and feel fulfilled.

There will be many instances where you’ll be at a crossroads between your career and personal life, such as if you’d like to start a family. From personal experience and seeing other women go through this, the transition to work after maternity leave can be a struggle. Therefore, you need to be proactive in asking your company to support you in finding the right balance and make family life and your career path work for you.  This requires also flexibility form a company.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

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Nominations are now open

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.


dr claire sharpe featured

“It’s about retaining women that have been trained, have expertise and are good and making the work environment one that they can stay in.” | Dr Claire Sharpe talks women in STEM, balancing her career and mentors


dr claire sharpe

“It’s about retaining women that have been trained, have expertise and are good and making the work environment one that they can stay in,” says Dr Claire Sharpe, a Reader in Renal Medicine and an Honorary Consultant Nephrologist at King’s College London and and ambassador of Kidney Research UK’s Women in Science campaign

Discussing the need to keep women in STEM and in particular the biological sciences and medicine, Claire believes that the problem doesn’t lie with encouraging girls and women into the sciences or a career in medicine. The problem lies in retaining these same women and girls within the industry.

According to recent statistics, 65 per cent of early career researchers in biomedical sciences are female. However, there is a huge drop off rate when looking at the progression to professor level with less than one in five biomedical professor positions across the research sector currently held by women.

Claire said, “The biological sciences, and certainly medicine, more women than men go into it on the outset. So it isn’t about encouraging them to go into the biological sciences, it’s about keeping them there.”

Indeed, Claire knew she wanted to be a doctor from a young age, saying, “It’s something I wanted to do when I was at school.”

“At the age of 13-14, I liked the sciences and I particularly liked biology, and medicine seemed like a good way of combining everything as I also wanted to work with people.”

Alongside her interest in the sciences, Claire credits a rather unusual source for wanting to turn her passion into a career. She said, “There were only two girls in the A-level physics class, and the teacher declared from the outset that “girls really only do Physics A Level because they know they’re going to be in a class full of boys.”

“It didn’t put me off, it made me angry.”

Despite this, Claire didn’t have her whole career planned out. She said, “Once you’re in medical school, you are on a little bit of a conveyor belt.”

“I chose kidney disease, partly because I found the patients and the subject really interesting.”

“Once I’d chosen which specialty I wanted to go in, I decided I wanted to do some research in it, so applied for my PhD and I enjoyed the research so much that I tried to balance continuing the research and clinical medicine afterwards.”

Claire divides her time equally between her research and teaching work and her clinical work with renal patients, including those with kidney damage caused by sickle cell disease. She is also Chair of the Athena SWAN self-assessment committee, a charter established to recognise commitment to gender equality. Claire juggles all this while balancing her home life and caring for three children.

Speaking about her working day, Claire said, “I don’t really think there is such a thing as a typical work day for me.”

Alongside her hectic schedule, which Claire admits is sometimes like ‘spinning plates’, she also helps the next generation of scientists and researchers. She said, “I spend a lot of time talking to people about their career plans, having mentoring type conversations.”

Having a mentor is something that Claire strongly supports. She says, “There’s always a debate about what a mentor is.”

“Is a mentor or sponsor someone who puts your name forward and promotes you in public? Or is it someone who helps you believe in yourself and boosts your own confidence?”

“I think it’s really a combination of all those things.”

“So, yes I think mentoring is very important.”

She continues, “Professor Bruce Hendry [fibrosis expert, Professor Emeritus at King’s College, London and immediate past President of the UK Renal Association] was my supervisor for my PhD and he was very supportive and encouraging, always pushing me to do things slightly outside my comfort zone, which I think is important.”

“It gave me the confidence that I can go and do things. I think that’s what a good mentor should do.”

When asked what she would see in terms of her achievements, Claire said, “Actually in five years time, looking back I think what I’ll be most proud of is building a critical mass of other people, getting other people into the sciences and achieving their potential.”

“So supporting and helping other people of both genders to have that confidence to go into an academic career, which isn’t necessarily the safest career structure but it is one we need to encourage people in to.”



Does the representation of women in science fiction influence the absence of women from the IT Sector?

Bradford University School of Management will be holding a workshop to discuss whether the representation of women in science fiction influences the absence of women from the IT Sector.

Sci-Fi Woman - Via Shutterstock
Sci-Fi Woman - Via Shutterstock

With women severely under-represented in the IT sector the reasons for the absence of females are still unclear, however research from Bradford University has suggested this is because the industry believes women are not geeky enough.

During the event participants will be invited to present short analyses of women’s representations in sci-fi with ten-minute film clips followed by discussion time.

The Absence of Women in the IT Sector - Dinner & Seminar will take place 5 & 6 September 2016, with a free dinner on the 5. Overnight stay is also available, with a small number of rooms on offer at Heaton Mount.

The event is being organised by Professor Nancy Harding and Dr Rana Tassabehji.

Guest speaker Martin Griffin from University of Leeds will discuss his study of how Disney films influence young girls 'organisational readiness'. Additional speakers will also be announced soon, who will discuss new directions for women in technology.

You can book online here.

Nominations open for WISE Awards 2016 | New men’s category

Kayleigh Bateman

Nominations are now open for the WISE Awards 2016, which focuses on showcasing women in the science, technology and engineering sectors.

WISE Awards 2016The nominations are now open and the deadline for submissions is 9:00am on Friday 8 July 2016.

WISE has launched a new “WISE Man of the Year Award”, which is jointly sponsored by McKinsey and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

WISE describe the category as: “Recognising the crucial role men play in championing diversity and recognise their power to change workplace cultures and influence perceptions in order to make a bigger difference.”

Last year Her Royal Highness (HRH) The Princess Royal, Patron of WISE, presented the winners with their trophies. She said: “We want to show every girl in this country and her family that she could have a wonderful future in science and engineering.”

Previous winners include Anna Shaw, Laboratory Analyst Apprentice, GlaxoSmithKline and winner of the WISE Apprentice Award 2014.

She said: “I chose the apprenticeship route because I enjoy having a full time job but wanted to really develop myself technically too. The Award means a lot to me because I was never pushed forward by teachers at school. I want to make it possible for all the younger generation of people who follow to do the same thing.”

The WISE Awards 2016 categories and sponsors are listed below:

WISE Rising Star Award – sponsored by Intel
For a girl or young woman studying or training in science, technology, engineering or mathematics whose achievements and passion have inspired others to follow in her footsteps. (Replaces WISE Girl and WISE Apprentice Awards)

WISE Hero Award – sponsored by Babcock
To celebrate the inspirational story of a woman using science, technology or engineering to make the world a better place.

WISE Health & Safety Award – sponsored by BAM Nuttall
For a woman who has improved health and safety within a science, technology, engineering, manufacturing or construction environment.

WISE Research Award – sponsored by Winton Capital
Celebrating cutting edge research in science, technology, engineering or mathematics - to show the contributions women are making to advances in scientific or other technical fields.

WISE International Open Source Award – sponsored by Bloomberg
This is an international award for female contributors to open source software projects, reflecting the global nature of the open source community and the tech sector at large. Finalists will be asked to commit to an activity that helps get girls and women excited about careers in technology.

WISE Tech Start-Up Award – sponsored by Goldman Sachs
For a woman who has used technology to set up, or helped set up, a successful business.We are looking for innovation in the business model, product or service, business model, or the way in which technology is used in the business.

WISE Employer Award – sponsored by AWE
For an employer who has adopted the Ten Steps or a similar framework and can demonstrate a positive impact on the recruitment, retention and progression of women in their organisation, through their supply chain and/or the wider industry.

WISE Impact Award – sponsored by Thales
For a project, campaign or initiative which has significantly increased the number of girls or women in science, technology, engineering or mathematics in the UK and could be replicated by others. We are looking for evidence of sustained change.

WISE Woman of the Year Award – sponsored by Rolls-Royce PLC
Celebrating the achievements of a woman in a leadership role in a science, technology or engineering industry.

WISE Man of the Year Award – jointly sponsored by McKinsey & The Royal Academy of Engineering
To recognise men who are championing gender diversity, using their influence to drive change in their own organisation and amongst their peers.

Inspirational Woman: Professor Dame Carol Robinson | L’Oreal For Women in Science Awards

Women in room with paintingsProfessor Dame Carol Robinson is making her mark in history having created a new scientific field, gas phase structural biology. Her breakthrough has secured her a global honour at L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards.

For 17 years, women in the science industry have been celebrated for their incredible efforts and contributions to the research field, from curing diseases to protecting the environment, and the award makes Professor Dame Carol Robinson the fifth British Scientist to have ever won.

In this inspiring video she talks about balancing her career in science with a demanding home life, what it means to be awarded the European Laureate award and the importance of the For Women In Science programme in supporting future generations of women entering scientific vocations.

We decided to find out more;

"The work life balance issue is a difficult one. I think there are times in your career when your outside life has to come first."

Women at computerHow did your interest in science originate? At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a scientist?

Through an inspirational teacher but there was no conscious plan to become a scientist – my scientific career evolved with me.

I can remember being fascinated by the periodic table from a very early age. I loved patterns that it held and realised the enormity of what I was looking at. Recognising, or looking for, patterns in my research is still very exciting for me.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in pursuing a career in science? How did you resolve them?

The work life balance issue is a difficult one. I think there are times in your career when your outside life has to come first. As a scientist the enormous flexibility that goes with the job is really a bonus. I didn't miss out on any important school events, sports days, nativity plays etc. Now my children are working all over the world. I am totally free to pick up the pace on my research. My advice would be to take advantage of the flexibility of your career and to remember that there will be periods when you can’t devote as much time to your work as you would like. Be confident that these will pass and then you will be grateful that you maintained your position in academic research.

women at computerWhen you were named as the first female Professor of Chemistry at both Oxford and Cambridge, how did you feel?

I remember feeling quite daunted. It felt as though I was an experiment and that my colleagues would be watching to see how I did – could a woman take on this role? I also felt that it was quite sad that many amazing women before me had not been given the chance to be Professors - they clearly deserved to be.

"I think it is a great idea that L’Oreal-UNESCO is highlighting women scientists in this way."

What has been your proudest moment as a scientist?

I remember the day, almost 25 years ago, when I saw my first protein assemblies fly through the gas phase. This excited me, particularly as these experiments were not predicted to work. Theoretical calculations had suggested that proteins would turn inside out in the gas phase. The fact that they stayed together and we later showed that they had the correct shape really launched my whole career.

Do you think that programmes like this help to encourage young women into the industry?

I think it is a great idea that L’Oreal-UNESCO is highlighting women scientists in this way. I hope it has a very positive effect on young women considering a career in science.

Carol RobinsonHow do you perceive the cause of women in science?

There are some great women scientists – getting them to believe in themselves, recognizing their potential and getting others to do so if perhaps the greatest challenge.

"You can have a great career if you really enjoy science. It is important to follow your passion and to be committed."

As a role model, what would you recommend to girls or young adults who are considering a career in science?

You can have a great career if you really enjoy science. It is important to follow your passion and to be committed. Being an academic is a very flexible career, particularly if you have outside commitments. There are times when I have worked incredibly hard - less so when my children were young. Now that they have all left home I am totally free to work at my own pace again. There are so many positives about being a scientist. Don’t think of it as being stuck in the lab all day. The opportunities to present your research, to interact at conferences and to carry out collaborations across the world are tremendously exciting. It is also very rewarding working with bright young students, watching them develop and take up their own careers. It really is a great career choice.

Watch Dame Carol Robinson discuss her career in this inspiring video

For more information please visit:

Cardiff Women in Science Network


CWIS-logoThe Cardiff Women in Science network exists to support female scientists across Cardiff University.

The network was established as part of an Athena Swan Initiative, and our aims are to provide a network for supporting female scientists and promoting gender equality across all STEM disciplines and in academia more generally.

The network provides opportunities for:

  • multidisciplinary networking
  • mentoring
  • professional development
  • sharing of information

We have members from all academic backgrounds from PhD students to professors, and are open to anyone in the university with an interest in gender equality in STEM.

For more information visit: