Sex in Science Activities

Sex in Science Activities

activitiestop.jpgSanger Institute, Genome Research Limited

As part of the Sex in Science programme we organise a wide range of regular events and activities with the aim of engaging staff on campus.

In addition to the talk series, we host activities such as:

  • workshops
  • career days
  • discussion panels
  • debates
  • theatrical plays.

The Sex in Science programme is a joint initiative of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and other entities on the Wellcome Genome Campus.


sis-debate2.jpgSanger Institute, Genome Research Limited

As part of our series of Sex in Science events, we host campus-wide debates to encourage discussion about the key issues surrounding Women in Science.

  • In 2013 the debate topic was "This House believes that it is harder for women than men to be scientific leaders".
  • In 2014 "This House believes that it is not possible to be a scientific leader and work part-time."
  • In 2015 "This House believes that quotas are essential to address institutional gender inequality".
  • Our most recent debate was held in 2017 "This House believes that women should leave academia to progress."

The debates are very popular events and prompt lively discussions. The audience use electronic voting pads to cast their opinion on who was the more persuasive debater.

International Women's Day

sisimage.jpgSanger Institute, Genome Research Limited

In March 2013 we held an event entitled 'The Female of the Species' which comprised a series of short talks from six female Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI scientists, followed by a panel discussion. The speakers shared their experiences as women in science, and how their career path had developed so far.

In March 2014 our 'Inspirational Scientists' event marked the day by hearing keynote speakers talk about the female scientists whose careers have inspired them and why, followed by questions and discussion.

In 2015 we instigated our annual Wellcome Genome Campus Best Practice Award for Supporting Women in Science:

2015 winners: John Overington of EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and Laura Huckins of the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Laura received her award for inclusiveness and dedication to championing STEM careers; John of EMBL-EBI received his for supporting parents by encouraging a healthy work-life balance.

2016 winners: Robert Petryszak of EMBL-EBI and Sumana Sharma of the Sanger Institute. Robert, a Team Leader at the EBI was nominated for embedding flexible working as a key feature into his team culture and empowering his staff to ensure an optimal work-life balance. Sumana, a PhD student, was recognised for being a real inspiration to others by being a tireless voice for equality, and also demonstrating that you can be a woman in science champion from the outset.

2017 winners: Ele Zeggini from the Sanger Institute, was nominated for being an exemplary role model and providing leadership and influence that has delivered tangible working practices at the Institute and driving a perceptible cultural shift in the attitudes towards women in the workplace, which has permeated throughout the organisation. Helen was nominated for actively supporting measures known to benefit women, including flexible working hours and improved maternity leave and providing guidance on how to better balance work/home life, striving for excellence in both.



As well as developing the programme on campus, we are nurturing connections with external groups. Partnering with funders, policy makers, scientific societies and research institutions is a valuable opportunity to influence the wider scientific community about issues relating to gender in science.

Seminars, Workshops and Events

In addition to these annual events we organise a varied programme of monthly seminars, workshops and events focusing on pertinent topics. Recent events include:

sis-sadaf-maria-liz.jpgSanger Institute, Genome Research Limited

Making the Transition to Independence - three female principal investigators, at different stages of their career, spoke about how to set up a dry and wet lab, how to recruit a good team and how to attract funding.

Mentoring sessions - we have re-energised our coaching and mentoring schemes. We have over 50 coaches and mentors on Campus who have had specific training.

Unconscious Bias workshops and training - we have run Campus-wide sessions on unconscious bias and how it can affect key decision-making processes. At Sanger, we have also put together bespoke training looking at unconscious bias and the recruitment and selection processes and what actions we can take to mitigate biases creeping into our decision-making.

Women's Leadership Programme - at Sanger we have developed a bespoke women's leadership programme for high-potential future leaders. The Programme includes workshops, individual coaching sessions, career planning and importantly, the building of a local network.

Decision-making - We have broadened the eligibility criteria of our decison-making committees, which has resulted in more women contributing at these levels. This has led to a better mix of leadership skills, a greater diversity of role models to inspire and mentor future generations and access to a wider pool.

Work-life balance workshop - as part of the 2013 activities our programme of events included a workshop that addressed the issue of Work-Life balance. Hosted by an external facilitator, the session focused on 'The Juggling Act: What to Keep and What to Give Up for Balance'.

Hidden Glory - a one-woman play giving an insight into the life of the great female scientist and Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin.

Flexible Working workshops - workshops highlighting the benefits for staff and managers who work flexibly. We have also put together videos to bring our policies to life.



The Sex in Science programme collaborated with Biobeat 15 to host a one-day conference entitled 'Translating Genomics into Biobusiness'.

The conference explored the burgeoning opportunities for developing companies that harness the potential of genomics. Take a look at the webpage to learn more about the conference and the high-quality line up of all female speakers: Biobeat15


For further information contact Dr Saher Ahmed: