Archive for June, 2011
In his latest book, From Here To Infinity, Martin Rees – the Astronomer Royal and Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at Cambridge – argues that science and hi-tech manufacturing must do more to attract the next generation. “It’s crucial that the brightest young people should perceive the UK as a place where cutting-edge science and engineering can be done,” he says.
Yet something is missing: and that something is women. Lord Rees points out that only 10 per cent of members of the Royal Society, from which he recently stepped down as president, are female. “Obviously, we are handicapping ourselves on the world stage if we don’t give opportunities to women,” he says.
This is where For Women in Science comes in. This award, made by L’Oreal and Unesco every year since 1998, “recognises the achievements and contributions of exceptional female scientists” by offering a £15,000 grant to further their research, money that can be spent on anything from lab equipment to childcare. The latest winner will be announced this evening; among the eight finalists are Dr Antje Weisheimer, who is researching methods to predict extreme weather more accurately, and Dr Monika Gullerova, who is studying the sort of genetic mutation that leads to cancer.
Projects like this are helping to bring about change: Lord Rees says that 30 per cent of those receiving University Research Fellowships from the Royal Society are women. In 20 years, he says, this will be reflected in the higher echelons. “But more needs to be done,” he says.
Listen to the audio (5 mins 55 secs)
“The island of Malta does not exactly have a central bus station. Instead, it has the Funtana tat-Tritoni, an open-air fountain in the middle of the capital city Valletta, which is home to a frenzy of bus-related activity. From early morning until late at night, fume-belching buses sweep around the fountain, picking up passengers, negotiating log-jams and stopping for the odd half-hour rest.
As well as the crowds of Maltese commuters that could be seen thrusting their way around the vehicles (office workers, school children, elderly nuns), I also noticed a good number of nerdy-looking tourists who were photographing the buses, recording mysterious details in little notebooks and generally getting in the way . . .” Read the transcript