Public Science

Suffrage Science 2014

Award ceremony for achievements in the life sciences

On 9th October, more than fifty leading women in the life sciences attended Suffrage Science 2014 at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre.

The event is organised annually by the MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre to commemorate, promote, and unite women across science and engineering. It is centred around the passing on of jewellery from one generation of leading women scientists to the next. The heirlooms, hand crafted and designed by Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, were inspired by the jewellery awarded to women of the Suffrage movement in recognition of their campaign for equal voting rights. This year’s 11 awardees were chosen for their scientific achievements as well as their abilities to inspire others. The 2014 award ceremony was hosted by science journalist and BBC broadcaster Vivienne Parry, who invited the audience to nominate their most inspiring female scientist of all time.

Anja Groth, one of the awardees, said, “I am very honoured to receive this heirloom and to be included along with the many fascinating women who have previously received the award. It also comes with the responsibility to get involved and live up to the ideal of the Suffrage women, who fought a fierce battle for recognition and the right to vote.”

The evening ended with an acknowledgement of the role men play in supporting women in science: four dads, who had been looking after their little ones during the event, were each given a set of commemorative cufflinks in purple, white and green, the colours of the suffragette movement representing dignity, purity and hope.

The 11 women celebrated this year are: 

Shannon Au, Crystallography, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Sarah Bohndiek, Biomedical Physics, University of Cambridge & CRUK Cambridge
Jane Endicott, Cancer Structural Biology, Newcastle University
Lynda Erskine, Development Neurobiology, University of Aberdeen
Anne Ferguson-Smith, (Epi-)genetics, University of Cambridge
Anja Groth, (Epi-)genetics, BRIC, University of Copenhagen
Jennifer Rohn, Cell biology, Science writer, University College London
Kate Storey, Neural Development, University of Dundee
Irene Tracey, Anaesthetics, University of Oxford
Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu, Experimental Psychology, Idaho State University
Eleftheria Zeggini, Genetics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge

In 2016, the heirlooms will be passed on again in a bid to encourage more women to pursue leadership roles in the life sciences.

Photos of the evening’s celebration can be found here.

An online version of the 2014 Suffrage Science booklet can be downloaded here.