Diversity and Inclusion in the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change- talk by Helene Hewitt and Anna Pirani

Dr Helene Hewitt is a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report Working Group 1, Chapter 9 ‘Ocean, cryosphere, and sea level change’.  Helene has also been part of the Met Office Athena Swan Self-Assessment team. Helene joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 1996 as an ocean scientist, where she worked on evaluating climate models and detecting climate change in the ocean. Since 2003 she has led both ocean and sea ice model development and work on Polar Climate. Helene previously managed the development of the climate model, HadGEM3, which couples the ocean and ice models to the Met Office Unified Model atmosphere. More recently, she led the development of a version of HadGEM3 with an eddy-resolving ocean component. Helene currently leads the Ocean Modelling group and the Joint Marine Modelling Programme. She is a Met Office Science Fellow and a Visiting Professor at University of Southampton.

Helene was joined by Anna Pirani, who is the Head of the IPCC Working Group I Technical Support Unit. She is responsible for the overall management of the WGI TSU as well as providing scientific support to the WGI Co-Chairs and Bureau in the preparation and production of the WGI products through the scoping, drafting, review, approval/acceptance, and publication processes. Anna was responsible for the oversight of the preparation of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and the Working Group I Sixth Assessment report (WGI AR6), and also provided scientific support to the preparation of the Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC). As part of the AR6, Anna supported the coordination of climate change scenarios across the IPCC Working Groups. Other activities include coordinating the preparation of Summary for Policymakers visuals with information designers and cognitive scientists and fostering the long-term curation of open source software for figures and data used within the WGI AR6. Anna holds a Ph.D. in Oceanography.


We were grateful to be joined by Helene and Anna to talk about their experiences of diversity and inclusion in the last cycle of the IPCC. The choosing of authors for each cycles report is done very carefully to represent a balance of knowledge and geography. In the last cycle (2016-2023), 63% of the authors were first-time IPCC authors in Working Group 1 (WG1). Despite this, WG1 had only 28% female authors, while WG3 stood at 29%. This highlights a clear problem that many people have been working to address in recent years. Below are listed some of the steps that have been taken;

  • External consultancy was hired to help with building awareness, working agreements, developing resources and using a consensus decision making process.
  • A recognition that expertise and training was needed- the IPCC had no gender policy.
  • A gender action team has now been established.
  • A report from this team has made recommendations to the IPCC in 2020
  • Gender bias training is to start in 2024, at the beginning of AR7.

While bringing these biases to light, it was found that the more gender imbalance was spoken of, the more awareness there was and more problems became apparent. There has been an increase in women in leadership within the IPCC since 2016, but this is slow progress e.g. there has not been a female IPCC chair yet. It is hoped that some of these processes that have been introduced in the last cycle will have more impact when the next cycle starts in 2024 as more people engage with the training. It was noted that cultural awareness is still lacking within the organisation, and this is certainly an outstanding problem. Given the progress made in gener imbalance in the last few years, it will be exiciting to see what else can be achieved in the next cycle.

Below: IPCC gender breakdown from Liverman et.al 2022 (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00208-1)


To be or not to be? The gendered nature of ambition

We were grateful to be joined by Sabrina Spangsdorf in March to share her interesting research around gendered ambition. An abstract outlining some of the results shown in the talk follows first:

Studies on gender differences in ambition show varied results, with recent qualitative studies suggesting this is due to lack of knowledge about how different groups define and conceptualise ambition. Indeed, ambition can be a vaguely defined concept, often framed in terms of specific end-goals, competition, or linear progression. We address these gaps by exploring how adolescents view ambition.  We combine a qualitative interview study (N = 30) with a cross-sectional correlation study (N = 684) to better understand how adolescents conceptualise ambition, and to explore how motivation, self-efficacy, and perceptions of success are related to ambition. Our qualitative analysis suggests that boys and girls share similar definitions of ambition and that psychological factors such as self-esteem, self-control, motivation, perception of success, goal-setting, and self-efficacy are closely related, but distinct. Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed that the factors are distinct from ambition and that there is a positive correlation between ambition and goal-setting, grit, self-esteem, and perceptions of objective success (but not subjective success). Unlike studies on adults, we find no correlation between ambition and motivation or self-efficacy. Our results suggest that the operationalisation of ambition should be derived from the participants, rather than from the researchers, to avoid possible gender differences.

Our members in the Women in Climate network felt the talk was very thought provoking, prompting us to think about the different ways that Ambition could be perceived. It was really interesting to hear about how this has historically been perceived in the literature, and how this has been affected by gender norms, with definitions of ambition being very stereotypically masculine, and biased towards male versions of success.

It was fascinating to consider how ambition and goals are often culturally determined by both gender and social class, with age and organisational context also being factors; BCG Survey (2017) found ambition often higher in women than men in early career, but declined due to company culture (and it was NOT related to them having children). Harman and Sealy (2017) also found organisational context influences women’s ambition level.

Then Sabrina outlined the different studies in her PhD research, which explore the definition of ambition and the influence of context and social status. It was really interesting to see the results for young people, who have not yet been exposed to the gender biases of male-dominated workplaces. Thank you to Sabrina for the fascinating talk.

From Blogging to broadcasting: How I found my feet in science communication

This month we were happy to be joined by Dr Rosie Oakes who is a Senior Scientist in the International Climate Services team at the Met Office. Rosie has a wealth of science communication expertise from having her postdoctoral work exhibited in the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia and being featured in a film by hit Youtuber Jack Harries and on ITV news during COP26. Rosie is passionate about communicating climate change science to a wide range of audiences and making science accessible and open to all.

To begin, we had a short discussion of why we should bother with science communication? Some of conclusions reached were;

  • Science only has an impact if it reaches people, and the decision makers aren’t scientists. We want governments to be able to make evidence-based decisions.
  • Science is funded by public money
  • The questions received by non-specialists can often help refine research questions and how we communicate our research

During the session, Rosie discussed some way that we can build our confidence when doing science communication. The phrase ‘safe space to fail’ was often used, and below is a list of possible communication scenarios, listed from least to highest risk. You can check out the slides here. WomenInClimate_ROakes_Feb2022

  • Personal blog
  • Outreach within a team
  • Internal videos and blogs
  • Live seminars
  • Solo classroom and community outreach
  • Podcasts
  • TikTok
  • Live event with a big audience
  • You tube documentary
  • Live Regional TV
  • Live National TV
  • Political Q&A
  • Live event with potentially hostile audience

In this list it is noticeable some certain changes as we move to more high risk events. For example, the change in audience size, whether it is a solo or team project, if there is a friendly audience, and if there is any oversight before publication. Some final tips on how to prepare;

  • Know your audience
  • Know your topic (and know what you don’t know!)
  • Make accessible materials
  • Practice with a friend
  • You got this! –Fake it ‘til you make it.

Finally, a word cloud of some of the barriers faced;

Below is a list of links and resources that were gather in the session from Roise and members which will hopefully be helpful in taking some first steps and connecting with other.

Met office podcast

Climate scientists podcast

Brilliant Club

Skype a scientist

I’m a scientist

Pint of Science

Met Office Tik Tok

Rosie’s Penn state Museum exhibit

Jack harries documentary

Freya and Rosie have kindly produced a document of FAQ’s for outreach events, with some suggestions of answers that people could use when asked common climate science questions. See the full document here: Freya_and_Rosie’s_Public_FAQs_Climate_Outreach

Book Club – ‘Why men win at work: … and how we can make inequality history’ by Gill Whitty-Collins

In January we met to discuss ‘Why men win at work:… and how we can make inequality history’ by Gill Whitty-Collins. This book looks beyond the facts and figures of gender bias in the workplace and studies the psychology of gender inequality. Described as “…an almighty set of recommendations” by Sunday Times Magazine and “A must read for everyone working for a big corporation…” by Lorraine Candy, author. Find the book online here, or try out an Exeter independent here!

Gill Whitty-Collins was relatively late discovering gender inequality, as some women are if they are privileged enough never to have experienced overt discrimination and harassment earlier in their career or have not been brought up to recognise their privilege. Multiple members have commented in past WiC meetings that they only appreciated the issues around gender inequality and other diversity issues in the workplace after commencing their PhD or postdocs in some cases. Gill Whitty-Collins says she has mentored hundreds of women during her career and through this will have gained insight into how gender inequality has affected many women. The gender spectrum is acknowledged but the simplistic men/women binary is described and generalised, which is not intended to take away from people whose experiences do not fit these generalisations; workplace diversity benefits people from all genders.

Gill Whitty-Collins takes a complex and nuanced issue and simplifies it into key themes and messages, including to-do lists for individuals and organisations. This makes the book a palatable and straightforward read, which hopefully encourages more people to read it and take onboard the messages within. Our members generally found lots in the book that they identified with and recognised from their own lives and careers.

The overarching message of the book is that men win simply due to people believing that they are best at their jobs, but of course, this isn’t true, with lots of data supporting that women are just as competent, intelligent and have just as much leadership capability.

Gill Whitty-Collins persuasively and powerfully describes the key reasons why people believe this (under which there is lots of complexity not always covered in the book, though we guess the book is intended to be as straightforward as possible).

  • First, there is the invisible power of culture. Performance correlates to how well people feel they fit in, and in a male dominated culture, women find it harder to be their authentic selves, and don’t perform as well as they could in a more diverse culture.
  • Secondly, confidence is rewarded more than competence (meritocracy is a myth than women believe much more than men).
  • Thirdly, the excellent umbrella theory; management are only aware of the top of the umbrella not what is going on underneath. They look underneath if it all goes wrong, but women need to show them what is going on at other times to be rewarded for it. Men typically take more time for self-promotion and networking, whereas women focus on doing their core job role well, often having less time for additional activities due to their higher household burden.

Some of the points raised by our members include identifying with the sentiment that ‘Men are afraid women will laugh at them, and women are afraid that men might kill them’. It is easy for the privileged in society to not realise or forget the existence of underlying dynamics that don’t affect them and considerations of those who are in a minority.

We also felt like the book includes excellent practical advice, for example, in dealing with conflict; humour can be a useful tool to defuse tension. The author’s position as an industry leader enables insightful useful practical advice.

Although the consensus is that ‘Why Men Win at Work’ is a powerful, practical, and persuasive book that is ideal for sharing with newcomers thinking about diversity, the brevity of the book means that underlying complexity is not fully addressed, nor are other protected characteristics beyond the occasional brief mention, and intersectionality of gender with other characteristics is not covered. Some WiC members feel there are points in the book that we don’t fully agree with such as the assertion that sport might be an easy fix for increasing woman’s resilience to failure, or that men are better at taking criticism (or do they often deflect blame?). Some of the ‘The science bit’ chapter is thought to be inaccurate by our members, and we would suggest using the book as an opener, and then with an engaged audience you can start more nuanced diversity conversations, and encourage the reading of books by specialists who have debunked some of the past ‘science’ on gender, e.g., Inferior, Invisible Women, Delusions of Gender and Testosterone Rex.

The additional chapter in the new edition on Covid-19 highlights that flexible working during the pandemic has not helped equality, with women taking on more household and childcare responsibilities, and so although flexible working can help some women, there need to be a range of changes to organisations and societal attitudes to improve gender diversity at senior levels in the workforce.

Gill Whitty-Collins concludes the book with tips to drive equality, for both individuals and organisations, some of which include:

For organisations:

  • The importance of gender diversity at 50:50 at all levels throughout the organisation, as well as recruiting women. Set goals and change systems and processes to deliver it.
  • Hire and measure leaders and managers on their inclusive behaviours.
  • Hiring for diversity (NOT hiring for people who fit in) to eradicate the existing dominant culture and ensuring adverts don’t bias toward existing dominant culture.
  • Paid parental leave should be not just equally available to men and women, but men should be actively encouraged (or even enforced) to take an equal share of it.

For everyone who this will help:

  • Make time for networking and self-promotion.
  • We can sound more confident by not undermining self by ending phrases with questions.
  • Realise that everyone is winging it sometimes and putting on a performance.
  • Reframe imposter syndrome and humility and thoroughness.
  • Say goodbye to perfectionism and make friends with failure.
  • Are you your partner’s servant?
  • Be proud to say you are a feminist and be your authentic self when leading.

For men (as allies of women and non-binary persons):

  • Be open supporters of women and non-binary colleagues and champion their work.
  • Feminism is good for everyone and great for business.
  • Don’t hire ‘mini-me’s!’ – hire for diversity.
  • Watch your language (don’t use words like ‘bossy’ or ‘pushy’ about women that you wouldn’t use about men) and watch your behaviour in meetings (help everyone contribute).
  • Sponsor women. Go beyond just mentoring and proactively support and champion women. Share and encourage them to seize opportunities and advocate for them for promotions and development opportunities.
  • Take your paternity leave and do 50% of the household work. You can also watch interviews with Gill Whitty-Collins talking about the book on her website.

Women in Climate 2021 Round up

We have had another busy year for Women in Climate, as the network approaches 4 years of age in April 2022! Nearly all of our meetings this year have been virtual, with the exception of an in-person social event in December 2021 (pre Omicron!).

We’d like to highlight that the network often writes blogs that capture the essence of a meeting, although meetings are not recorded to encourage open dialogue in meetings (we hold our meetings under Chatham House rule). You can catch up on the blogs using the links below.

This year we:

Freya also used her event organising skills to co-organise the Gender Day event at COP26 in the Science Pavilion, ‘What Women Bring to Climate Science’ (you can watch this event on Youtube).

Looking back further in time, there are a number of blogs which might be interesting for you to revisit. You can see the full list of events that we have held since April 2018 here. Some particular suggestions include:

In the New Year, we look forward to more book club meetings, learning about Science Communication with Dr Rosie Oakes, and learning about the gendered nature of ambition, plus many more meetings through the rest of the year. You can see more information about our future events here.

Dr Kate Marvel: Climate, Clouds and Communication

This month we held a joint meeting with the Inspiring Science seminar series at the University of Exerer, and we were fortunate to be joined by Dr Kate Marvel- a high profile physicist and climate science who is also well-known for climate communication. Kate’s career has spanned researching policy relevant science issues at Stanford, wind power and the Carnegie Institute, fingerprinting the human influence in precipitation change at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and climate forcings and feedbacks at Columbia University. Most recently, Kate teaches Dynamics of Climate Variability and Change at Columbia University whilst also working at NASA GISS. Kate’s communication efforts started with a blog, but have included high profile writing in Scientific America and the book/project ‘All We Can Save’ as well as high profile interviews with Time magazine, the New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine. Kate gave a TED Talk on clouds and climate change in 2017 which has had over 1.3 million views.

To start the meeting, Kate gave us a brief overview of her climate communication work, and the difficulties of telling a story that might not seem very interesting to some, and even just depressing. Kate noted that we are at a point where the global political landscape is shifting. We shouldn’t be trying to counter the question- ‘I don’t believe in climate change’. This isn’t the biggest threat, as this only accounts for a very small amount of hard to reach people. Instead, many people are apathetic or don’t know what to do about it. We need to talk to the people who don’t understand climate change, who don’t see how it will impact them, who don’t care and don’t know what to do. This is a much larger proportion of society which is open to listening.

  • Beware of the extremes (e.g: on social media, the extremes make a lot of noise but are not necessarily representative of the general population)
  • Talking about science is storytelling
  • Find the ‘deep story’ – Find the one thing which matters to someone and their values. You may be able to communicate better with someone that you have shared values or hobbies with.
  • Keep reading both fiction and non-fiction, it helps to make you a better writer and communicator
  • Just start writing – ‘Keep typing until it turns into writing’ David Carr, New York Times. Try out creative methods, simplifying your science, writing in different styles e.g: poetry
  • No one person can be THE climate communicator, it requires everyone to take part.

After hearing from Kate, we had the opportunity to quiz her on different aspects of climate communication and her career. The questions were provided by members of the Women in Climate network and attendees on the day. The discussion mainly focused on improving the communication and outreach we can do as climate researchers. One of the best bits of advice given was to talk about the climate crisis as a problem with a solution. This tends to help people engage with the problem without causing despair and helps them to take action. Remember that the majority of people care about the climate, but do not know enough, or do not know where to start helping. Overall, having more people speaking about the crisis is one of the best things that we can do. This helps to decrease the burden, reach the disengaged and initiate societal change.

Also discussed was ‘All We Can Save’, a topic of a previous Women in Climate book club earlier this year. This exciting project bought together a huge number of women climate scientists and activists to contribute essays and poems, including Kate Marvel. We were also excited to hear about Kate’s new book, ‘Human Nature’, the story of climate science in 9 emotions, which will hopefully be published next year. Kate also suggested other resources to keep on learning, and a variety of fiction, non-fiction and web pages are listed at the end of this post.

We would like to thank Kate for speaking, everyone who attended the event for their excellent questions, and the Maths department for their help in making this event possible as part of their Inspiring Science series.


Book Recommendations

Kate Marvel book coming soon (‘Human Nature’)

Katherine Hayhoe ‘Saving us’


Octavia Butler (Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents)

Mary Shelly

Richard Powers

Web resources:

Real climate, link

Sceptical science, link

Climate feedback, link

Women and Climate Craft

Exeter staff and students joined others across the country to become “Canary Craftivists” this week. We met to sew little yellow canary birds from fabric leftovers, and to join the call for decisive climate action at this year’s climate change summit, COP26, which is being hosted by the UK government, in Glasgow. These little fabric canaries represent the warnings we have from scientists across the world about how climate change will impact the things we hold dear, in the same way that canaries were once trusted by miners to warn them of upcoming danger. This foreknowledge gives us a crucial opportunity to work together to limit the damage and protect communities. The birds will be sent as gifts to local MPs, to support their efforts to lead the way in creating a cleaner and greener future for all. “Canary Craftivists” is a national initiative run by the Craftivism Collective, who use handicrafts as a tool to bring people together for quiet, creative activism, which they call ‘gentle protest’.
Read more about the event in the GSI press realase here.
 We also discussed the Moths to a Flame campaign as a future crafting project!

“Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race” Blog

This month we hosted a book club discussing the Sunday Times best seller, `Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge. This book, first published in 2017, brings a fresh, British perspective to the conversation around anti-racism which was sparked globally in the summer of 2020. We would highly recommend reading this book for those not able to attend the call. An interesting discussion was had around a number of the different themes in the book, with the conversation focused on some questions proposed in a blog post by Sally Flint found here. Particularly interesting was the chapter on intersectionality and feminism, and the subsequent discussion on how we as Women in Climate can support black people and other minorities in the sciences. A number of participants also suggested implicit association tests, to help further understand our own biases. We hope that we will be able to continue this conversation within the network going forwards and a number of additional book and films were suggested by the participants as listed below.


Further Reading and Watching (Recommended by session participants)

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

How to argue with a Racist by Adam Rutherford

13th on Netflix

Small Axe BBC one

Superior by Angela Saini (also her book Inferior for the science behind sexism)

The good immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

What white people can do next by Emma Dabiri

So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo (Also her book Mediocre)

Ten simple rules for building an antiracist lab by V Bala Chaudhary

Some fiction suggestions…

Homegoing by Yaa Gyuasi

Small island by Andrea Levy

Gender differences in productivity and collaboration networks of top-ranked academics

This week we were pleased to be joined by Ana Jaramillo and Mariana Macedo to discuss this topic of gender differences in academia. Both are PhD candidates at the University of Exeter in Computer Sciences.

First we heard from Mariana about `Differences in the spatial landscape of urban mobility: gender and socio-economic perspectives’. This study is based on the definition of human mobility as the displacement between locations in urban areas e.g: how far someone travels for work. This has historically been very different with women either staying at home or working closer to home for reasons such as childcare and safety. This work only considers the social constructs affecting urban mobility, and not possible biological reasons. The aim of the work is to address a gap in the current literature and shows that urban mobility can be impacted by a variety of factors including cultural constructs, modes of transport, city development and spatial opportunities.

The work done by Mariana considers mobility in three different locations (Medellin, Bogotá and São Paulo), and quantifies the mobility diversity as a quantity H. It is no surprise that men consistently had a higher level of mobility in these regions. Interestingly, the upper class had lower urban mobility and a larger gender difference compared to middle class where the gender gap was smaller. Overall, socio-economic factors gives a higher diversity in mobility then gender difference, but gender difference can become ten times higher when we also consider socio economic factors.

We then heard from Ana on the topic of `Gender difference in productivity and collaboration networks of top-rated academics’. It is well known that women are underrepresented in academia, particularly in STEM subjects. The good news is that representation is growing, but very slowly. From this work, it is hoped that it may be possible to diagnose the problem of this slow growth. Ana’s work focuses on the productivity and collaborations of the top 10% most productive computer scientists as quantified by their number of publications.

From the number of publications over a person’s career, it is interesting that women are seen to have much shorter careers at 35 years vs 47 years for men on average. Once productivity is understood, collaboration and networks can be studied by looking at co-authorship on papers. It was interesting to hear that women work with more women than men do, while men work with men more than they do with women. Women also have networks which are more clustered meaning that they tend to work more in research groups. The conclusion of this is that men work with women less than expected. The good news is that this is slowly changing as representation improves and working patterns become more collaborative.

Action at a Distance: A Reflection on the History of Women in Science

This week we were lucky to be joined by Dr Kirsten Walsh from the University of Exeter. Kirsten’s work focuses on the Philosophy of science, in particular Isaac Newton’s early modern philosophy. Newton is well known for believing that women did not have a place in science, and his Newtonian followers started a new type of science book- Men explaining Newtonian science FOR women, since it was not to be done BY them. It was appropriate for women to read about, and discuss popular scientific theories, but they wouldn’t be invited to intellectual gatherings, or permitted to universities for another 150 years, with some exceptions. This view of excluding women from scientific discovery far pre-dates Newton, but he arguably popularised it given the weight he had in the scientific community. Sadly, some of these views have persisted to today, and Newtonian followers influence has been discussed at length in books by the likes of Laura Miller and Patricia Fara.

While not well documented, there have always been women doing science, although they are often not in visible positions or given appropriate credit for their work. Kirsten proposes this theory to help explain the history of Women in science – Action at a distance. While women were doing science and having influence, it was unseen, both at the time due to prejudice and also now, due to the lack of historical documentation. Yet these women had a profound impact on science despite their separation.

The first woman highlighted in Kirsten’s talk was Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673). While not an experimental scientist in the traditional sense, Margaret Cavendish published a number of works in her own name including poetry, plays and natural philosophy. While shy in character, Cavendish became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I before later marrying William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle. Margaret had been known for writing down many of her ideas as a child, and continued this into her marriage. While married, she and her husband hosted the so-called ‘Cavendish circle’ – a gathering of intellectuals in their own home. It was not common for women to attend these types of gathering and so by hosting them, Margaret was able to participate in scientific conversation amongst other scholars. Most notably, Margaret Cavendish was the first woman to attend a Royal Society meeting. Her request had initially be denied, however the founders of the Royal Society had never explicitly banned women. She was eventually allowed to go to a meeting, however her ideas were often belittled by her male peers and she was given the nickname ‘Mad Madge’. Her contribution to science has only been fully recognised in the last 50 years and so while not explicitly excluded from scientific circles of the day she was separated from the credit she deserved by a temporal distance.

We then looked at the story of Emilie Du Châtelet, a mathematician and physicist who lived from 1706-1749 in France. She benefited from an indulgent father who encouraged her intellectual curiosity, and the ability to hire tutors for herself in later life. Most of her work is not credited, with many of her contributions thought to have been published in other books. In particular, she is thought to have contributed to Voltaire’s ‘Elements of future philosophy’. She also had an interesting friendship with Francesco Algarotti, who called her “sufficiently skilled” and is thought to have used her ideas in his Neutonianismo per le dame (‘Newtonism for ladies’). Thankfully some of Du Châtelet’s work was credited. Most well-known is her French translation of Newton’s Principia which included her own work on conservation of energy, and is still the standard translation used today. Also published was a physics textbooks she had written for her 13 year old son. The debate following this publication resulted in her becoming a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna. Once again, while not fully excluded from science, Emilie was separated from her work, this time by not being given credit for her ideas.

Next, the discussion turned to Laura Bassi (1711-1778), who is recognised to be the second woman in the world to earn a PhD, and the first to do so in science. She was later a salaried employee at the University of Bologna, and the first woman employed as a lecturer and then as a professor at a University. Bologna was well known for being progressive in terms of equality, and yet while she was a professor there she was restricted to carrying out a number of ceremonial duties, and was only allowed to lecture once a term. All of these additional, non-scientific responsibilities would have eaten into her time in which she was able to do her science. This is a something many female academics are still familiar with, although today with less compulsory poetry writing. Laura Bassi also benefited from the patronage of the Archbishop of Bologna, later Pope Benedict XIV. It was with his assistance that she was able to earn her PhD and position at the University. He also helped her gain access to academic books, and later funding to start conducting experiments in her own home. Bassi was perhaps the most accepted to the women in science discussed in this session, and yet was still separated from her science and relied upon male patronage to get access to resources. In this case, due to the ceremonial roles given to her, and the compulsory poetry that went along with it, taking her away from the research.

Finally, Kirsten talked about Mary Anning (1799-1847). Anning came from a very different class to the other women discussed, and her family was by all accounts, poor. It is likely that she was not at all educated, but took over the family business in Lyme Regis selling fossils from the Jurassic coast. These specimens were mostly sold to tourists, while some went to experts for collections and studies that will have informed a significant amount of geological science at the time. The methods that Anning developed would go on to be used more widely, leading her to be labelled as the pioneer of early fossil hunting. It is known from correspondence at the time that Anning’s work influenced a lot of science, however she never had any mention in publications, and was completely excluded from scientific circles. It is part luck that we can ever credit this work to Mary Anning – had her brother not been away at a work, or had there simply been another male in the shop, she would likely not have got any credit at all. Anning is more excluded from scientific circles than these other women, due to both class and gender. Despite this, the influence she had on the field of geosciences is profound.

Often when women in science are discussed, we talk of women being excluded from their fields. This is not always the case. As we have seen, a number of these women looked like they were being included, whether being given access to the Royal Society or a professor of a University. However, despite these signs of inclusion, all of these women were separated from their work in one way or another. Kirsten argues that this is a more accurate description – these women were separated from their scientific communities and influences science from a distance. The discussion that followed Kirsten’s talk centred on some of the class divides that these women also faced, and how this often also caused a further separation. It is interesting to think about how some of these separations are still seen today, and I’m sure this will be topic of many conversations in the future.