When is a woman in science not a ‘woman in science’? When she is a woman in science.
At the risk of generalisation, women in science are hard-working, dedicated, cutting edge…scientists. Call them ‘women in science’ at your peril. Women in science will tell you quite firmly that they do not want to be treated differently or feel they do not deserve their place. Any hint of tokenism will be greeted with a frosty response.
And Professor Eleanor Stride is an uber scientist, which is nothing to do with mini-cabs but everything to do with dedication, hard-work and world-changing ideas. It is hard to imagine that she has ever felt she is making up the numbers.
‘You’d be surprised,’ she says. Sometimes, it is felt that there has to be a woman involved and no one wants to be that woman. Professor Stride maintains there is, of course, a need for more women in science and is infuriated at the idea that girls are still told that Maths and science is not for them. She is, quite literally, furious at the ‘Mummy wasn’t any good at Maths’, sort of parental advice. And, she says, the counter-balance needs to start early, at Primary School, when girls start to drift away from the sciences and Maths.