15 October 2013

Sex in Science launches web presence on Ada Lovelace Day

Website promoting women in science unveiled as nation remembers inspirational 19th Century mathematician

Watercolor portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace) by Alfred Edward Chalon

Watercolor portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace) by Alfred Edward Chalon [Science and Society Picture Library]

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The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and European Bioinformatics Institute's (EBI) Sex in Science programme launched its website today to coincide with Ada Lovelace day, an annual celebration of the inspirational 19th Century female mathematician who was one of the world's earliest computer scientists.

The website outlines the aims of the Sex in Science programme, which was launched in 2011 by Sanger Institute Faculty member Dr Ele Zeggini, to generate discussion and raise awareness about issues traditionally facing women in science, and to drive practice and policy change. The pages also provide an overview of the programme's achievements so far.

Internationally, women in science are represented in diminishing proportions as career levels progress," says Dr Zeggini. "We hope that our web presence will help to raise awareness of the work the Sex in Science programme is doing to address issues that affect not only female scientists but increasingly also men in science."

" We hope that our web presence will help to raise awareness of the work the Sex in Science programme is doing to address issues that affect not only female scientists but increasingly also men in science. "

Dr Eleftheria Zeggini

Pioneers like Ada Lovelace, who wrote the world's first algorithm for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine in 1842, inspire women in science. Similarly, Professor Dame Kay Davies, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Cambridge, Dr Sally John, head of human genetics at Pfizer, and Sir Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Adviser and former Director of the Wellcome Trust, are three of the leading figures that have shared their guidance with aspirational scientists through the Sex in Science programme's series of talks, careers days, debates, workshops and networking opportunities.

"The Sex in Science programme has been instrumental in raising consciousness about issues confronting women in science and we need to continue this conversation," says Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Within the Institute this should focus on mentorship as, for many women, a barrier to progress is not being able to recognise themselves in the role of a senior scientist."

Jo Swinson, Minister for Women and Equalities, has voiced her support for the programme saying, "Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) are still dominated by men - women are seriously under-represented in this sector. Not only are women missing out on what can be a highly rewarding career, but UK companies are missing out on a huge pool of talent.

"We must invest in the futures of young women and girls to inspire the next generation of budding Ada Lovelaces to succeed. This will benefit them directly and will also allow us to maximise the UK's economic potential and competitiveness in a global market.

"The Government is already supporting a range of activities to promote STEM education and careers including the STEMNET Ambassadors Programme and a STEM Diversity Programme. So, it's great that The Sex in Science Programme is also helping drive forward much needed action through its new web pages."

Notes to Editors

The Sex in Science programme

The Sex in Science programme is a joint initiative of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) that aims to generate discussion and raise awareness about issues traditionally facing women in science, and to drive policy and practice changes to redress them.

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The European Bioinformatics Institute

The European Bioinformatics Institute is part of EMBL, Europe's flagship laboratory for the life sciences. EMBL-EBI provides freely available data from life science experiments covering the full spectrum of molecular biology. We are a non-profit, intergovernmental organisation funded by EMBL member states. Our 500 staff represents 43 nationalities and we welcome a regular stream of visiting scientists throughout the year.

Website

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world's leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease.

Website

The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.

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