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IRDR PhD student chosen to present at L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards Ceremony

12 May 2017

On 4th May 2017, The Royal Society in London hosted the 10th annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship Awards. For the last 10 years this annual Fellowship program has supported outstanding female postdoctoral researchers to continue their research. As part of the L’Oréal-UNESCO wider programme aimed at supporting and increasing the number of women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions, this year the awards ceremony included, for the second time, a poster competition for female PhD students in the UK and Ireland. Amy Chadderton, PhD student in the IRDR, was selected from over 500 entries as one of the final ten PhD students and was invited to present her PhD research at the Awards Ceremony. Here is her account of the evening:

“It was an honour to be chosen as one of the finalists for the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science poster competition and an incredible opportunity to discuss my research and experiences in science with so many inspirational women from a range of STEM subjects.

Fellowship winners

My evening at The Royal Society began with a reception where I had the opportunity to present my research in experimental volcanology to a variety of people ranging from fellow PhD student finalists, to the Women in Science shortlisted candidates for this year’s Fellowships, to Anne Lyon the current President of the National Association of Head Teachers. It was a fantastic experience and gave me the rare opportunity to talk (and enthuse!) about my research to scientists outside my field and to other people working to promote women in science. The reception also enabled women from different disciplines to meet and discuss their experiences working in fields that are often predominantly populated by men. What can be done to encourage young women into these fields to combat these issues was a hot topic of conversation.

Amys poster

The Awards Ceremony commenced with several opening speeches highlighting the importance of the work the For Women in Science Programme does and really emphasised the importance of role models for women of all ages. Research has shown that gender stereotypes of certain careers are set in children as young as 5 years old and exposing children to role models from the world of work that challenge those stereotypes can have a massive impact on their perceptions.

The Fellowships were then presented to the worthy winners who work in a diverse range of fields, from mathematics to immunology to nanoscience. The aim of these Fellowships is to enable inspiring female scientists to continue their work by allowing the flexibility to allocate funds to whatever is needed to facilitate their research, a rare opportunity in most grants.

L'Oreal reception

During the post-ceremony reception, we got to congratulate the Fellowship winners and continue to talk science and the issues facing women in STEM over nitro-ice cream canapés and wine. When the evening was over I left even more enthused than ever over the importance of initiatives such as the L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Programme. Encouraging women of all ages in science is a passion of mine and a cause very close to my heart, so it was an amazing feeling to be surrounded by so many like-minded people and to see first-hand the valuable work that is being done to combat the inequalities women face.”

For more details about this year’s winners of the Women in Science Fellowships and the work of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Programme see the following article.

For more information about Amy’s work in experimental volcanology see her profile on the IRDR website.

All photo credits to L'Oréal.