Women in Science

The world needs science and science needs Women.*

In 2011, Dame Sally Davies, the UK Department of Health's Chief Medical Officer, underlined the science community's commitment  required by medical schools to improve gender equality in a letter to medical schools setting out her intention that applicants for the National Institute for Health Research's Biomedical Research Centres and Units funding must have achieved an Athena Scientific Women's Academic Network (Athena SWAN) Charter for Women in Science Silver Award.

The Athena SWAN charter has been running since 2005, and the three awards recognise the commitment of science departments to recognise and implement plans to resolve the unequal representation of women in science and to improve career progression for female academics.

The Division made its application for the Silver Award in November 2013 and we are proud to announce we have been successful in our application.  (Updated, April 2014)

* from L'Oreal/UNESCO Women in Science awards website

Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team Contacts

The Division's Athena Swan Self Assessment Team:

  • Professor Mala Maini – Chair
  • Professor Judy Breuer
  • Dr Ari Fassati
  • Dr Richard Milne
  • Ms Laura Pallet
  • Mrs Samantha Photiades
  • Dr Anna Schurich
  • Professor Hans Stauss
  • Dr Milica Vukmanovic-Stejic
  • Ms Charlotte Whicher
  • Dr David Wiseman


Professor Jean McEwan, SLMS Academic Lead for Athena SWAN, and Professor of Clinical Education.

Our application to Athena SWAN

The Division's Athena Swan Self Assessment Team have been meeting regularly to discuss the application and how to determine and solve the extent of gender imbalance within the Division’s activities. 

The submission to the Athena SWAN Committee was made on 28 November, 2013 and the award was confirmed in April 2014. 

UCL staff/postgrad students can see the application on our internal pages (UCL log-on required). 

Mentors and Mentoring

Mentoring in the Division

We are piloting a mentoring support service in the Division in the first instance for to all post-docs, lecturers & those on fellowships approaching career transitions, eg fellowship applicants.   

Mentoring has been shown to be an effective aid to progress for employees at an earlier stage in their career development from another employee who has  greater experience from which to  draw and advise.

Mentoring is a personal relationship between individuals at different stages in their careers where someone with more experience/success in a field, the Mentor, assist in the development of the potential of the less experienced employee, the Mentee.  The relationship is based on mutual trust and respect.

Choosing a mentor

It is an important part of the process that a Mentee chooses his/her mentor.  Your Mentor should not be your line management and should be someone you feel able to approach and define your own needs as Mentee.  Please note: Mentors will have no more than 2 or 3 mentees and this will be on a "first come, first served" basis.

You are welcome to approach any of the PIs in the Division (listed below with links to their IRIS profiles and email addresses) to request s/he be your mentor:

Mentoring sessions

Your mentor and you will agree on a time to meet informally to discuss a plan for the number of sessions (this may change during the mentoring process).

Informaton about mentoring

Further information

If you require any further information about the Division¹s scheme or have any concerns during your mentoring experience, please contact Samantha Photiades, Divisional Manager at s.photiades@ucl.ac.uk

Our Women in Science

Professor Judy Breuer

Judy Breuer ia a Professor Virology in the Division of Infection and Immunity.

Judy Breuer: IRIS Profile

Dr Siobhan Burns

Siobhan Burns is a Reader in the Division and an Honorary Consultant in Immunology at the Royal Free London and Great Ormond Street NHS Trusts. Her research group is focused on the function of the innate immune system in primary immunodeficiency syndromes. She is married with two sons in primary school and worked flexibly (approximately 80% FTE) for a number of years during her Clinician Scientist fellowship while her children were pre-school.

Siobhan Burns: IRIS Profile

Professor Mary Collins

Mary Collins is a Professor of Immunology and Director of the MRC Centre for Medical Molecular Virology. Her lab works on engineering viruses for gene delivery and vaccination. Mary is the UCL Gender Equality Champion. She is currently developing proposals to ensure that the academic promotion process at UCL is equitable. As Dean of the Life Science Faculty she has introduced a “core meetings in core hours” policy (9am-5pm). Mary has two teenage children and shares domestic and homework duties with her husband. Mary recently agreed a flexible working arrangement with her manager, allowing her to spend Fridays with her 93 year old mother.

Mary Collins: IRIS profile

Dr Clare Jolly

Clare Jolly is a Principal Investigator and an MRC Career Development Fellow in the Division of Infection and Immunity. Her group works on HIV-1 assembly and the molecular mechanisms regulating HIV-1 cell-to-cell spread.

Clare Jolly: IRIS Profile

Professor Mala Maini

Mala Maini is a Professor in the Division of Infection and Immunity and an Honorary Consultant Physician specialising in viral hepatitis. Her group works on the immunopathogenesis of hepatitis B virus infection. She had 2 daughters while completing her postdoctoral training and worked flexibly (theoretically 80% time) for the duration of her MRC Clinician Scientist fellowship.

Mala Maini: IRIS Profile

Dr Emma Morris

Emma Morris is a Reader in the Division of Infection and Immunity and an Honorary Consultant Haematologist specialising in Bone Marrow Transplantation, Cell and Gene Therapy. She is also Co-Director of Research and Development at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Her PhD was in stem cell biology at the University of Cambridge. Her research group at UCL is interested in genetically engineering immune cells to enhance their ability to kill malignant or infected cells. This works spans basic science and animal models to phase I/II clinical trials in cancer patients. She is married with 3 children under the age of 10 years and works full-time.

Emma Morris was one of 5 medical researchers who participated with their patients in the UCLH/Joint Research Office-commissioned photography project with photographer, Clare Park, to explore the experience of taking part in medical research and the symbiotic nature of researcher/doctor and subject/patient.  The exhibition, Gathering light, was shown at UCH in May 2012 and you can view some of the work on http://www.clarepark.tv/projects/nhs/frame.htm.

Emma Morris: IRIS Profile

Professor Lucy Walker

Lucy Walker is a Professor in the Division of Infection & Immunity and an MRC Senior Non-Clinical Research Fellow.  Her group works on immune-mediated diseases with a particular focus on Type 1 Diabetes.  She is married with two step children.
Lucy Walker: IRIS Profile (to be added)

Dr Milica Vukmanovic-Stejic

Milica Vukmanovic-Stejic  is a Senior Research Fellow in the Division of Infection and Immunity. She is funded by the MRC and her research focuses on cutaneous immune responses in humans in vivo and effects of ageing of the immune system. She had a son while completing her postdoctoral training and worked flexibly for the first 2 years after that.

Milica Vukmanovic-Stejic: IRIS Profile

Emeritus Professor Patricia Woo

Patricia Woo is Emeritus Professor of Paediatric Rheumatology and honorary consultant at Great Ormond Street and University College Hospital.  She set up the centre for paediatric and adolescent rheumatology comprising clinical service at these hospitals and research team at UCL in 1995. The centre is now the largest clinical and research centre in UK for the specialty. The latter was first recognised as a training specialty after negotiations with the RCP by Professor Woo. 

Patricia Woo: IRIS Profile

Working in a UCL Division

Division of Infection & Immunity Staff Booklet

This summer, the Division published a staff booklet summarising the policies governing the work of staff working in the Division in a handy A5-size format. 

All current staff have received them and the booklet will be given to all new members of staff.

Working at UCL

As an organisation UCL strives to support its staff and promote equality of opportunity within its workforce. 

Current initiatives and aims to promote equality and diversity can be seen on the UCL Equalities & Diversity Website.

The UCL Equalities and Diversity team have published new guidance to managers on supporting working parents and carers.

Some specific policies to note

Below are some specific policies and services to support staff:

work life balance


UCL have a team of trained, volunteer harassment advisors available to listen to members of UCL staff who believe they are being harassed, to clarify the options available and to support and assist you through the process of resolving the matter. All cases will be treated in confidence. (Link to team)

Anti-harassment website - UCL Staff
UCLU Advice & Welfare Site - UCL Students


Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a free and confidential service from Workplace Options, an independent, provider of employee support services. Their staff are specialists in fields such as counselling, well-being, family matters, relationships, debt management, and workplace issues.

This support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and is accessible by phone, email, online and via instant messaging. The EAP can provide practical information, fact sheets and packs, resource information on support services in your local area and even short-term counselling to help get you back on track

Employees Assistance Programme (website)


UCL is one of Stonewall Top 100 Employers 2012 - The Workplace Equality Index - equality for its lesbian, gay and bisexual employees.(http://www.stonewall.org.uk/at_work/stonewall_top_100_employers/default.asp)

UCL Women & Athena SWAN events at UCL

'Inspiring Excellence – Lessons from Successful Women' 

Seminar Series organised by the Athena Swan Committee and UCL Cancer Institute.


15 January, 2pm, Bloomsbury
Speaker: Helena Morrisey CBE,  
CEO of Newton Investment Management and Founder of the 30 Percent Club 
Venue: Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, Main Campus

3 April, 12 midday, Bloomsbury
Speaker: Professor Dame Wendy Hall,
Dean of the Faculty of Physical & Applied Sciences, University of Southampton 
Venue: Darwin Lecture Theatre

Drinks will be served after the events for a short networking opportunity. 
Organizer: Dr Suzana Hadjur

(Date added: 7 January, 2014)

UCL Women: networking

UCL Women, a new networking group for academic staff in the sciences and engineering, launched on 16 January 2013.

Open to staff at the post-doctoral level and above, the group will provide a regular, informal forum for getting to know other women at UCL.

The aim is to provide access to information and advice that might otherwise be hard to come by.

The launch will take place in the 2nd Floor Seminar Room of the Rayne Building on University Street from 4-6pm.

The meeting will be chaired by Philippa Talmud (Professor of Cardiovascular Genetics). Vivienne Parry (Writer, Broadcaster, Vice-Chair of UCL Council) will compere a panel of speakers addressing the questions “How did I get here? What am I doing?”. The panel will include Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience), Mary Collins (Dean of Life Sciences), Uta Frith (Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development), Jean McEwan (Dean of Medical Sciences), Liora Malki-Epshtein (Lecturer, UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering) and Jennifer Rohn (Principal Research Associate, UCL Medicine).

This will be followed by cheese and wine and a chance to network. The launch will also provide the opportunity to gauge the time and place for regular meeting on the campus.

Women in UCL Science: your stories

As well as a series of social, supportive and networking events, Philippa plans to collate a series of stories of women working in science at UCL and at different career stages, who can serve as models to all of us.

Do consider approaching Philippa with your story and respond positively to her requests for narratives at p.talmud@ucl.ac.uk

We will supplement these with short video interviews and all material with be hosted on the SLMS  Academic Careers Office (ACO) microsite.

Funding opportunities specifically for women


Research Grants

British Federation of Women Graduates
Scholarships and grants to women graduates

The Daphne Jackson Trust
The Daphne Jackson Trust is an independent charity which offers flexible, part-time, paid fellowships to scientists, engineers and technologists who have taken a career break of two or more years for family, caring or health reasons.

L'OREAL/UNESCO Women in Science
Fellowships of up to £15k; next deadline: 14 March 2014;  grants to female postdoctoral researchers that can be spent on indirect research costs, such as childcare.
L'Oreal/UNESCO E-booklet - Women in Science 2010

Wellcome Trust Career re-entry fellowship scheme
For scientists who have taken a career break of at least 2 years

The Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship
This scheme is for excellent scientists in the UK at an early stage of their research career who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues. 

Female candidates are particularly invited to apply.

Women in Science (sources of information)

UK Government

House of Commons Science & Technology Committee report on Women in Science
(February 2014)

This month, the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee published their report into women's careers in science.

Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Committee:"It is astonishing that women still remain under-represented at professorial levels in academia across every scientific discipline. It’s time for universities to pull their socks up.”

Some universities are doing a great job at improving working conditions for women scientists, but others are not. The system of short term contracts is hugely off-putting for many women scientists.

More standardisation is required across the whole higher education sector and that is why we have called for Government, universities and research councils to review the academic careers structure, so that talented women, and men, can have more stable career pathways."
(from www.parliament.uk- link to report; download Report (pdf)

Media coverage

"Impostors" Downshift Career Goals

"Impostorism is something that negatively affects both men and women, but it's more pronounced among women, and therefore affects their career trajectories more."—Jessica L. Collett

Jessica Collet, co-author of a study, with Jade Avelis, writes about the effects of imposterism on women's career plans, in the scatterplot blog, http://scatter.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/feeling-like-a-fraud-youre-not-alone/, in response to reporting of their study in Science Careers Magazine by Michael Price, http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2013_09_04/caredit.a1300188, and also reported by Oliver Burkemann in The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/nov/09/impostor-syndrome-oliver-burkeman, (9 November, 2013).

Nature Special Supplement (7 March 2013)
Women in Science: The Gender Gap and how to close it
To celebrate International Women's Day on Friday, 8 March, Nature published a special on women in science. In this collection of articles written by women scientists, while a picture of embedded sexism emerges, a range of initiatives and implementations for change is described.

New Scientist - Opinion by L'Oreal/UNESCO Fellows Drs Seirian Sumner and Nathalie Petorelli (16 July 2011)
"The high cost of being a woman".
The two Zoological Society London-based academics apply evolutionary biology to define the problem and refers to the findings of the genSet study and the need for positive discrimination.

Studies & Surveys

The Royal Society

In March 2014, the Royal Society's report, A Picture of the UK Scientific Workforce, was published. The report broadly found that:


  • Women are not underrepresented in the overall scientific workforce but they are highly underrepresented at the most senior roles.
  • For a cohort of mid-career individuals, women working in science were less likely to take career breaks than women who work in other occupations.


  • Disabled people are underrepresented in the workforce as a whole, but they are no more underrepresented in the scientific workforce than in other occupations.


  • Overall in the scientific workforce, black and minority ethnic workers are relatively concentrated at the two ends of the spectrum – they are overrepresented in the most senior and most junior parts of the scientific workforce..

Socio-economic background

  • Socio-economic background has a strong effect on an individual’s likelihood of entering the scientific workforce. For the mid-career cohort, science workers living in households in the highest income bracket (£20,800 or over) at age 16 in 1986 are more than five times as likely to progress to a professional level occupation than those in the lowest household income bracket (less than £5,199 pa).

Link to Royal Society reports and data tables; download Executive Summary (PDF).


Mothers in Science, 64 ways to have it all is a compilation of interviews with 64 women scientists who describe the challenges and joys of being career scientists and mothers in the timeline of their careers so far.
Download PDF

Unesco Institute for Statistics (UIS) report on women in higher education in 2010


This UIS report records an unprecedented rise in the number of women enrolled in higher education over the last 40 years.  In western europe in 1980s women's enrolments passed that of men's.  These changes reflect the change in attitudes towards women however the data, analysed by Chaio-Ling Chien, a UIS data analyst, shows that despite over representation as students, women are not on equal footing in the workplace and in decision-making/strategic positions.

The chemistry PhD: the impact on women’s retention
In 2012, Curt Rice, in The Guardian's Higher education network (link to article), reported results from a UK Resource Centre for Women in SET/Royal Society of Chemistry sponsored study by Jessica Lober Newsome called  The chemistry PhD: the impact on women’s retention (downloadable PDF) that only 12% of third year female PhD students want a career in academia. 

Creating dialogue in European scientific research (genSET)

genSET (http://www.genderinscience.org/) is an innovative EC-funded project aiming to improve the excellence of European science through inclusion of the gender dimension in research and science knowledge making.  It is a forum for sustainable dialogue between European science leaders, science stakeholder institutions, gender experts, and science strategy decision-makers, to help implement effective overall gender

The EC phase of the project ended in March 2012, and genSET continues as a programme run by Portia Ltd.

The goal is to develop practical ways in which gender knowledge and gender mainstreaming expertise can be incorporated within European  science institutions in order to improve individual and collective capacity for action to increase women’s participation in science.

genSET focuses on five key areas where gender inequalities and biases disadvantages women’s participation in science:
1. science knowledge‐making; 2. research process; 3. recruitment and retention; 4. assessment of women’s work; and 5. science excellence value system


International Womens' Day logo

International Women's Day - 8 March - http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

UCL held events to celebrate this (see also "Celebrations of women scientists").

Science: It's a girl thing! : http://science-girl-thing.eu/en
This EU funded site is part of the Research & Innovation remit and aims to showcase women scientists and careers in science.

University of Venus: http://uvenus.org/

(GenX women in HE from around the world)
The University of Venus is an award-winning, peer-reviewed blog bringing together GenX women in higher education from around the globe.

Celebrating woman scientists

Suffrage Science

Suffrage Science digital launched on the centenary of International Women’s Day, March 8th 2011.

Featuring conversations between leading female researchers, including Professor Mary Collins, in neuroscience and psychology, embryology and genetics, structural biology; and the biology of cancer and HIV, the publication brings to light a collection of stories about the significant contributions that women have made to science over the past 100 years.

Science Heirlooms

Leading women life scientists and communicators were awarded with science heirlooms as part of a scheme pioneered by the MRC to commemorate a century of women in life science on International Women's Day on 8th March 2012.

The limited-edition, hand-crafted pieces of jewellery – designed by Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design – will be passed on to new owners. 

Amanda Fisher (Director, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) explained, “hopefully these heirlooms will encourage women to pursue leadership roles in life sciences. It will be interesting to see where they end up in five years' time.”

Read more about the event and passing on the heirlooms on UCL news.

Page last modified on 25 nov 15 12:53