Marking International Women’s Day and British Science Week
Inspirational women working in STEM joined forces on Friday 6 March to shine a spotlight on scientific achievements following news that less than 50% of the British public could name a female scientist. The event was scheduled to mark both International Women’s Day (8 March) and British Science Week (6 – 13 March). Held at The Biosphere, a scientific facility based on the 24-acre purpose-built development Newcastle Helix, the event celebrated the careers of several influential women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) disciplines.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Speakers and guests at the event included some of the businesses and women based at The Biosphere who form part of the growing £1.1bn life science eco-system in the North East.
Just last month, educational charity Teach First reported that less than 50% of the British public could name a female scientist and that there wasn’t a single woman’s name featured in the national curriculum for science. Given the significant work and developments in health and life sciences taking place in the region, organisers were keen to shine a spotlight on the North East women making a difference in the sector.
Chi Onwurah MP, who herself trained and worked as an engineer and currently serves as the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, officially opened the event with a passionate speech about women’s achievements in STEM.
Chi said: “The number of talented women working in STEM is continuing to grow, but there’s still a perception that these subjects are for men which is not the case.
“Some of the North East women I met today are involved in research that could truly transform the lives of so many people – whether that be through new cancer drugs or medicine safety. These women are role models, inspiring the female scientists of tomorrow.”
Joining Chi speaking at the event were:
- Professor Ruth Plummer, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at Newcastle University Centre for Cancer, who spoke about her career and how we can encourage more young girls and women to move into a career in STEM;
- Dr Shaheda Ahmed, Scientific Manager at Alcyomics, who told the audience about how she moved from a career in banking and finance into science after her son was diagnosed with a rare genetic illness; and
- Professor Nicola Palmarini, Director UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing, who talked about why we need men advocating women in STEM.
The Biosphere is a specialist facility tailored to the commercialisation of life sciences, providing biology and chemistry laboratories and high-quality office space. It is home to a range of innovative businesses working in the field of health and life sciences; Biosignatures, NewChem Technologies, Cognassist, Jiahua, Northgene, MDNA, ExplantLab, Dermuris, Iksuda, Alcyomics, BiberChem, Newcells and Atelerix.
The event was an opportunity for the sector to come together, share stories and discover new ways of inspiring young women to embark on a career in STEM.
Cllr Joyce McCarty, Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “The health and life sciences work that is taking place in Newcastle and the wider region is world-leading. However, although the general public see the shiny new buildings built on Helix, they may not necessarily know what goes on behind those laboratory doors. We’ve got a lot to be proud of in Newcastle and that’s why we felt it was important to encourage our female scientists to share their stories and encourage more young girls to follow in their footsteps.
“There certainly won’t be a shortage of career opportunities in STEM in the region, so we hope these case studies and stories that will continue to be shared online and through social media will really highlight both the impact being made and the opportunities on offer.”
The Biosphere has secured significant funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the Government’s Local Growth Deal through the North East LEP. Both funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.
Image caption: Speakers at the event: (L-R) Professor Ruth Plummer, Professor Nicola Palmarini, Farah Hussain and Dr Shaheeda Ahmed
For further information contact: Finlay Magowan, Media and PR Manager, NewcastleGateshead Initiative.
T: 0191 440 5777
Related articles and links
- The Biosphere - Helix's home for life science statrt ups and SMEs
- The first 10 companies in The Biosphere
Notes to editor
About the Biosphere
The Biosphere was awarded £8.6m from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) along with £4.96m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The Biosphere owned by Newcastle City Council has received £4.96m from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
The Biosphere is part funded by the North East Local Growth Fund from HM Government, administered by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. The Local Growth Fund is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal. The North East LEP works to make the North East a place where more businesses invest, grow and prosper. For more information visit www.northeastlep.co.uk
To find out more about the Biosphere visit https://thebiospherenewcastle.co.uk/ About the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.
The £270.4m Local Growth Fund, secured as part of the North East Growth Deal, supports the North East LEP’s delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.
About the Local Growth Fund
Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.
That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.
Analysis has shown that every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits.
If you would like some further facts about the Fund, or the wider regeneration work going on across the country, please contact DCLG press office by emailing NewsDesk@communities.gsi.gov.uk in the first instance to request any additional information you might need.