Bringing together women in science

Mijke van der Zee, Dr Rebecca Jones and Dr Josephine Paris of the University of Sussex and 500 Women Scientists.
Mijke van der Zee, Dr Rebecca Jones and Dr Josephine Paris of the University of Sussex and 500 Women Scientists.

Two University of Sussex researchers want to bring together women scientists in Brighton and Hove in a new campaigning support group.

Dr Josephine Paris and Dr Rebecca Jones, a research and teaching fellow in the evolution, behaviour and environment research group at the University’s School of Life Sciences, have founded the Brighton and Hove pod of the successful 500 Women Scientists movement.

The pair are hopeful of attracting women working in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine roles across the city to help build a local group that will become a powerful advocate for equality and science-based policy.

The regional pod for the city is holding its launch event this Thursday (June 21) in the lounge area of The Craft Beer Co. in 22-23 Upper North Road, Brighton, from 7pm. The event will include a quiz starting at 7.30pm.

Dr Paris said: “The 500 Women Scientists movement in the US has been incredibly inspiring and achieved an awful lot. We are only starting out on our journey as a pod here in Brighton and Hove but the US pods are a model we will be looking to emulate and hopefully eventually grow to become a movement that can be an equally effective catalyst for change as the movement has been across The Atlantic.”

The 500 Women Scientists movement began with an open letter from four female scientists looking for 500 backers to their call for nationwide equality in the wake of Donald Trump’s successful bid to become US President in November 2016.

The movement has now grown to more than 20,000 members in more than 100 pods spread out across the globe.

There are 19 pods in the UK with the newly-launched Brighton and Hove chapter the first in the South East.

500 Women Scientists works to empower women to achieve their full potential in science, promote diverse voices in science communities and to advocate for science-based policies and decisions.

The Brighton and Hove pod will host monthly gatherings for women scientists which this launch event will help inform. These could include networking events or social events, it will be driven by the interests and desires of the pod members.

Dr Jones said: “We really want to spread our net far and wide across the city to bring together as many female scientists working in as many different roles and industries as possible. The stereotypical image of a female scientist is probably someone like me in a white coat in a university lab but we know there are fantastic women scientists who are working all over this city; involved in science at a local wildlife trust, doing great work in the city’s digital sector and working in a local technology company.

"We want to create a very friendly network where everyone can come together to share their experiences, talk about what challenges they face and how we can overcome them. We really hope that this could be a really transformative group that will help put the city’s scientific achievements on the map.”

For more information on 500 Women Scientists click here or contact 500women.brighton@gmail.com.