- 13 May 2014
For the first time, three female presidents lead the Society of Biology, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics. On 13th May 2014 this will be celebrated by the presidents coming together at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester.
The three presidents appeared together on BBC Breakfast, and have issued a joint statement on their aspiration to see ‘absolute equality’ for all in science:
"This is a moment to celebrate progress, but crucially to encourage today's young scientists to push very hard to make the future genuinely equal. For an area like science where the challenges and opportunities are huge, what is needed is real diversity among scientists and absolute equality of opportunity for all to become scientists.
"At school, girls outperform boys in all three sciences at GCSE. However, girls are outnumbered five to one in A level physics classes and, while more girls than boys study chemistry and biology at A level, if you survey along the career ladder women progressively disappear from view. Across the UK many young women do not believe a career in science-based roles is available to them.
"We must consider that the lost opportunities here are not just for women, they are for science. We know that science has become extremely important across all sectors of the UK economy with 20 per cent of the UK's workforce employed in science-based roles. The number is expected to rise to 7.1 million by 2030. There is a national shortage of skilled STEM workers each year, 40,000 at the most recent estimate, and we need talented women to fill these gaps.
"We need a genuine change of perspective. Science has in the past been seen as a man's world, but this must not be perpetuated. Science is both revolutionary and progressive and just as it has to be open to all ideas it should be open to all people – Government and the scientific community must work together to provide the support needed to allow women to reach the top in science. Most importantly, we need to send a message to all young people with ambition to become scientists: they must believe in themselves and push for progress - the rewards are many."
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell FSB FRS, President of the Society of Biology
Dr Frances Saunders CB FREng FInstP, President of the Institute of Physics
Professor Lesley Yellowlees CBE FRSE FRSC, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry.