News / Women in STEM

Soapbox Science returns to Bristol

By ellie pipe, Thursday Jul 11, 2019

Scientists from across the South West will be ditching their labs and lecture halls and heading to the streets of Bristol on Saturday.

The women are all experts in different disciplines and will be speaking to members of the public about a range of topics – from animal camouflage to growing red blood cells – and engaging them in cutting-edge research.

The aim of Soapbox Science is to celebrate the diversity of female and non-binary scientists, increase their visibility and perhaps inspire the next generation in an accessible, interactive environment.

The event aims to tackle implicit bias in science and society

Soapbox co-founder Dr Seirian Sumner, said: “There’s more to Soapbox than just a science outreach event.

“Soapbox champions the fabulous female scientists we have in the UK, providing accessible role models for the next generation of female scientists, and promoting the visibility of women in science to the general audience.”

Studies show that one of the big problems that is driving the loss of women from science is implicit bias, say the event organisers, who seek to challenge stereotypes.

In the UK, women account for 35 per cent of PhD science graduates, but only 11 per cent of senior lecturers and less than eight per cent of professors. Yet, the country has an annual shortfall in domestic supply of around 40,000 new STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skilled workers.

One solution is to retain the women currently being lost from science.

The event on Saturday, July 13 runs from 12-3pm in Broadmead, where people will have the chance to meet and interact with scientists.

The public will be invited to learn, question and interact with the researchers during one-hour sessions, each of which will showcase four speakers.

Dr Rebecca Pike, a lecturer at the University of Bristol and organiser of the event, said “It’s amazing to be part of such a special and innovative public engagement event that promotes women in science as well as allowing people to discover science from real scientists.”

Scientists will be talking to members of the public on Saturday. Photo © Sarah Koury

Soapbox Science was founded in 2011 in London, by Dr Seirian Sumner, from University College London and Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, from the Zoological Society of London. This year, the concept has expanded with 42 events running across 13 countries.

Main photo © Sarah Koury

Read more: Nine of Bristol’s brilliant women in STEM

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