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Edinburgh International Science Festival Celebrates Women in Science

Posted: 11 February 2018

Today we celebrate all girls and women in science. In an attempt to reduce the gender gap for all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) the United Nations and multiple significant bodies declared February 11 as International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

According to the United Nations, a study conducted across 14 countries found the probability for female students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree was 18%, a Master’s degree 8% and Doctor’s degree was only 2%.

The Edinburgh International Science Festival has always strived to promote, encourage and celebrate girls and women in STEM through our annual Science Festival, Generation Science, Careers Hive and many other ventures.

Our 2018 Festival continues this trend with a myriad events celebrating women and their contribution to science. This year the Edinburgh Medal is presented to Cordelia Fine, author and Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne, for her work on the understanding of gender stereotypes, challenging gender perceptions and for her contributions to public discourse to close the gender gap.

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, first female president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and one of the Women of the Year in 2015, will join us in A Celebration of Women in Astronomy to regale us with incredible tales of amazing women in astronomy, and to reflect on their position in today’s world.

A number of female speakers are also coming on board such as chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood, journalist Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, science writer and broadcaster Dr Kat Arney, world fly expert Dr Erica McAlister, Radio 4’s Claudia Hammond, CBeebies’ presenter Jess French, psychologist Professor Christine Caldwell and many more.

Many of our events are targeted towards the younger generations to inspire them about science. Valentina’s Galaxy is an interactive show for starry-eyed 2-5 year olds about the wondrous adventures of women in space. The Element in the Room presents a comedic venture about the life of Marie Cure, arguably one of the most important women in science. And all of our events are open for any gender to take part.

We champion the importance of women in STEM through a commitment to achieving 50:50 parity across our programme including participants and audiences.

We saw more than 40% female participants in the 2017 Festival. This is an increase from approximately 14% to 40% female participants since 2011. We will continue to emphasise gender parity and aim for equal female representation in both our speakers and science communicators. 

As The Edinburgh International Science Festival, we have a strong commitment to playing our part in reducing the gender gap in STEM and we will continue this journey for as long as it takes.