As I was thinking about the outcomes and success of recent projects about women in SET to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day – in particular those here at the Open University ( The Real Wonder Women ) – I was reminded of another celebratory project. Over the last six years I have been excited and inspired by the UKRC Women of Outstanding Achievement photographic exhibition project (Women of Outstanding Achievement 2011 ) in which annually several outstanding SET women are chosen and celebrated in wonderful photographic portraits. I was reminded because previously the launch of each year’s exhibition was on or about 8th March.
Women have been nominated for outstanding contributions in the areas of SET discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship; communication of SET with a contribution to society; and SET leadership and inspiration to others. The collection now has 30 award winners’ portraits. As well as being a celebration and tribute to the individual and collective contribution of women in the SET field, this project is very much about visibility. Looking around the walls of our great institutions, public buildings and public art collections we aren’t greeted by many women at all never mind many women scientists and engineers. This project is a nudge to change that. After the yearly exhibition the portraits find permanent homes in prominent locations in leading SET professional bodies, academic institutions, renowned laboratories and engineering companies. It is to be hoped that these portraits and the stories that go with them will act as role models and inspirations to others.
This year’s winners will be announced and the portraits unveiled ( a little later than usual) on 5th May. I’m looking forward to seeing another group of exciting portraits of some inspirational women. I’m also hoping that among us we can think of ways of maximising the potential for visibility that the existence of this collection brings.