WISRNet: Women in Science Research Network
The participation of women in science is hot topic. Policy makers are concerned not only about girls’ perceived reluctance to participate in science at school (particularly to take physics and maths at A level), but also in progression on to University and then into scientific careers.
WISRNet is an AHRC funded network project which is stimulating cross-disciplinary (both academic and non-academic) debate of the position of women in science today and historically. It is a jointly run and led by Sue Hawkins of the University’s Centre for the Historical Record in partnership with Claire Jones an historian of women in science at Liverpool University and Jenni Thomas, historian at the Rothschild Archive.
The aim is to generate new ideas about female scientists’ experience of science in the past, particularly through learned societies, and about the persistence of contemporary imbalances with regard to participation of women in science.
The network has organised a series of workshops and a major 2 day international conference which have brought together historians, archivists, scientists and influential individuals already active in this area. The International Conference produced an outstanding programme of talks on a diverse range of topics and a selection of papers will be published in the Royal Society’s Notes and Records in spring 2015.
Even before its launch, the proposed network was garnering support from across a wide range of disciplines. At launch we had 30 network members. This number grew rapidly and membership has now reached 141. Members bring a wide breadth of knowledge to the table, be they academic historians interested in how women first broke into the male enclave of science, to sociologists and policy makers concerned that women scientists still have a long way to go to achieve parity in representation at all levels.