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The University of Southampton
Interdisciplinary Research Excellence

Women in Science - The glass half full Event

Time:
14:00 - 15:00
Date:
25 April 2012
Venue:
Building 67, Room 1027

Event details

Women are under-represented in science. The reasons are often different for the different science disciplines. In the Biosciences, there are more than 50% women at undergraduate level, but they progressively disappear along the leaky pipeline of the academic career. There is a lot of discussion about why this might be, and the discussion is almost all about how very difficult everything is.

While it is certainly true that academic careers are competitive, the negativity in the discussion about academic careers in science and the ability of women to pursue them is in my view a self-fulfilling prophecy. If women are endlessly being told how difficult everything is, why would they choose to follow the academic career path when there are so many others available to them? And interestingly, why do men disproportionately choose to stick with the "difficult" career? I think there needs to be more emphasis on the range of career options available and their diverse merits, so that everyone is choosing their career path based more on positives, and less on negatives.

Ottoline Leyser's PhD work involved the analysis of meristem mutants of Arabidopsis, under the supervision of Ian Furner in the Genetics Department at Cambridge University. She then spent three years at Indiana University working on auxin signalling in the lab of Mark Estelle, eventfully punctuated by the birth of her two children. After a brief spell back in Cambridge, she moved to the University of York where she established a research group combining her interests in meristems and hormone signalling to analyse the role of auxin and other hormones in regulating shoot branching plasticity. In January 2011 she became Associate Director of the new Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge University, which focuses on plant developmental biology and its computational modelling.

Ottoline is currently Chair of the BBSRC Bioscience Skills and Careers Strategy Panel and a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. She serves on the Editorial Boards of several journals and the Science Advisory Boards various research institutes across Europe. In 2007 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and to EMBO and in 2009 she was appointed CBE in the New Years Honours list.

Speaker information

Professor Ottoline Leyser,Associate Director of the new Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge University

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