UEA joins national campaign to boost number of women in science and engineering

Published by  Communications

On 30th Nov 2020

 Dr Sheng Qi and Dr Laura Lehtovirta-Morley

Pictured l-r: Dr Sheng Qi and Dr Laura Lehtovirta-Morley

Leading female academics today welcomed the University’s membership of a national women in science network as a demonstration of its commitment to encourage more diversity in the sector.

WISE – Women in Science and Engineering – aims to increase the participation, contribution and success of girls and women in science subjects across education, business and industry. UEA joins organisations such as the BBC, Bloomberg and Lloyds Banking Group in committing to work with WISE to increase and retain talent in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to drive gender equality and economic growth.

All UEA staff and students can sign up to the WISE programme to gain access to its national network, blogs, events, learning materials and training. The University will also use the organisation for recruitment, as well as signing up to its ten-point plan to increase opportunities for women in science subjects.

 “We have outstanding women working in science and engineering disciplines across UEA,” says Professor Fiona Lettice, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.

“Women who develop life-changing medicine, carry out research that will benefit our planet, create innovations that will help drive our local and regional economy, and support those in the developing world. We are investing in a new regional hub for engineering, technology and management, Productivity East, where business will work alongside our world-leading researchers and enterprising students. Diversity of thought and experience is key to our success. Our ambition is to nurture and encourage more women to do great things. Our membership of WISE reinforces our commitment to do this.”

There are nearly 2000 women at UEA studying science subjects at Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Postgraduate Research levels, including chemistry, biological sciences, engineering, computing, environmental science, maths, physics and pharmacy.

UEA can also boast that, Professor Sarah Gilbert, the woman behind the celebrated Oxford University coronavirus vaccine, is a former UEA biology student.

The University also has leading research scientists such as Dr Sheng Qi and Dr Laura Lehtovirta-Morley who are involved in life-changing work with global impact. Dr Qi is a Reader in Pharmaceutics. Her research team study pharmaceutical materials and product development. They are currently working on new drug-releasing contact lenses for treating eye diseases, and exploring pharmaceutical applications of 3D printing for personalised medicine manufacturing. 

She says the WISE membership will enlighten and inspire more young women to discover their potential. “This year we have pushed limits and broken boundaries in politics, science, and humanities as we have never seen before,” said Dr Qi. “At the forefront of these areas, we see exceptional and inspirational leadership of women. The reason I love and devote my career to STEM is because it allows me to combine creativity and knowledge to innovate new technologies that can improve and enrich people's lives. The WISE membership will support us to work harder to bring greater gender balance to these subjects on campus.”

Dr Lehtovirta-Morley, is a microbiologist and Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences. Her research group studies the microbiology of the nitrogen cycle in soils, and the impact these microbes have on agricultural management, global food security and climate change.

“I hope this new partnership is a step towards a future where female science leaders are the norm,” said Dr Lehtovirta-Morley.

“The success of a person as a scientist should be defined by their scientific ability, drive and curiosity, not by their gender. I gladly welcome the news that the UEA is supporting the WISE initiative to further promote gender balance. In Life Sciences, there is a reasonably good gender balance in Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Postdoctoral levels, but when it comes to research leaders, women are in the minority.”

The number of women studying science subjects at UEA represents 45% of the total number of science students overall - 5% above the Higher Education sector average. In Postgraduate Research there is an equal gender split. It’s hoped UEA’s membership of WISE will boost these figures and help recruit and retain more female STEM academic staff. It builds on the University’s existing equality and diversity work with the Athena SWAN global gender charter and the Aurora Women’s Leadership Programme. UEA Students’ Union also run a WISE society

Latest News

  News
28 Jan 2021

New university students not left behind, despite 2020 A-level chaos

Students in England starting university in autumn 2020 were as prepared as their peers who moved into higher education the previous year – even though they had...

Read more >
  News
28 Jan 2021

How AI and ‘puff technology’ could help understanding of smoking behaviour

Researchers at the University of East Anglia are using new ‘puff technology’ to see how people who smoke and vape use e-cigarettes.

Read more >
  News
25 Jan 2021

Continued strict control measures needed to reduce new COVID-19 strains

A group of scientists is calling on governments to consider the continued use of strict control measures as the only way to reduce the evolution and spread of...

Read more >
  News
22 Jan 2021

"Timing wise, this U-turn in US climate policy is excellent"

As President Biden signs the United States back up to the UN Paris Agreement, Heike Schroeder, professor of environmental governance in UEA’s School of...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
22 Jan 2021

"Timing wise, this U-turn in US climate policy is excellent"

As President Biden signs the United States back up to the UN Paris Agreement, Heike Schroeder, professor of environmental governance in UEA’s School of...

Read more >
  News
21 Jan 2021

Herd immunity may not be achievable even with high vaccine uptake

The government vaccination programme may not be sufficient to achieve herd immunity - even if everyone in the UK is vaccinated - according to new research from...

Read more >
  News
20 Jan 2021

Study shows how network of marine protected areas could help safeguard Antarctic penguins

New research led by BirdLife International, the University of East Anglia (UEA) and British Antarctic Survey highlights how a proposed network of marine...

Read more >
  News
19 Jan 2021

New report on post-Brexit challenges and opportunities

Brexit and Beyond, a new report from academic think tank UK in a Changing Europe, underlines the challenges and opportunities that confront the United Kingdom...

Read more >
  News
19 Jan 2021

‘Babysitters’ provide boost to offspring of elderly birds

Young Seychelles warblers fare better if their elderly parents have help raising them, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the...

Read more >
  News
15 Jan 2021

New project aims to improve rates of patients taking medicines for type 2 diabetes

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is working with the Universities of Oxford and Amsterdam to test a community pharmacy service designed to support people with...

Read more >
  News
14 Jan 2021

2020 ends earth’s warmest 10 years on record

The latest data confirms 2020 concludes the earth’s warmest 10-year period on record.

Read more >