On the panel there were a range of backgrounds and specialities. Dr Jess Wade, leading the discussion, is a researcher in the Centre for Plastic Electronics at Imperial College London, Senior Outreach Officer at Kings College London, and a member of the Institute of Physics South East Branch Committee. She works to interest young people in science through a number of schools based science and engineering schemes and is an educational consultant for the Institute of Research in Schools. Joining her on the panel was Dr Ceri Brenner who works on converting laser-plasma physics research into real-world applications at the UK’s Central Laser Facility. She almost wasn’t a scientist at all, let alone one with her credentials, first considering musical theatre, then business and finance, before deciding on helping society.
Eleanor Loh is a cognitive neuroscientist and is a part of the “Affective Brain Lab,” which looks at emotion and decision-making, something Eleanor is personally interested in, along with how we remember past experiences and learn from them to trust various information sources. She discussed how her mother, who also works in STEM, is conflicted about being asked to be on a panel, as she worries it is just because she is a women and there to fill a quota, rather than as a result of her achievements. However, Eleanor believes that even if she is there simply for her gender, at least she is there, and has this platform, no matter what the reasons.
Amy King works to engage young people, through GlamSci, her organisation that aims to get more women and disadvantaged young men interested in STEM subjects, and through volunteering work in schools, of which she has accumulated over 250 hours. The name ‘GlamSci’ originates from becoming exasperated at being repeatedly informed that she was “too glamorous to be a chemist.” She has also been named one of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 175 faces of Chemistry 2016. Amy shared her experiences of being told she “doesn’t look like a chemist” and having to repeat the periodic table from memory to be believed (yes, really!).