We need to turn thinking that women can't be successful in science on its head says RSC President

05 August 2013

Professor Lesley Yellowlees is today quoted in a BBC Scotland feature on sexism in science as describing an incident in which a member of the society expressed a negative view on her appointment as the Royal Society of Chemistry's president, because she is a woman.

The comment was entirely that of an individual and in no way representative of any significant portion of the membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

In response to the feature, Professor Yellowlees said: "The remark made to me last year was that of a lone voice and reflects an old-fashioned view of women in the workplace. The member concerned is entitled to his opinion, but what we need to do is to turn any thinking that women can't have successful careers in science on its head.    

"We've come far, but there's a lot still to do - especially to ensure that young female chemists coming through their education and early careers have role models to look up to.

"That's why I was delighted to launch the Royal Society of Chemistry's 175 Faces of Chemistry initiative last year. This online resource highlights and celebrates the diversity of individuals across the chemistry community, both past and present, and holds them up as role models for future generations of scientists. 

"I would encourage anyone, both from inside our membership and beyond, to take a look at this resource and see just how diverse our community is; to look back on those who have helped to shape the chemical sciences and to take inspiration from them and from the wide variety of faces who are continuing to shape our science today."

Dr Helen Pain, the Royal Society of Chemistry's Executive Director for Membership, said: "The Royal Society of Chemistry has a long record of encouraging and supporting chemists from all backgrounds to progress their education and careers in the chemical sciences. 

"We are one of the leading organisations in speaking up for the need for more women scientists and we are making very positive strides in this area, particularly within our own leadership. We have our first female President at our helm and, at our annual general meeting this year, it was announced that over half the membership of the RSC's Council are women. 

"We want to see more women remaining and excelling in science and we are involved in a number of activities to support them to overcome the challenges often associated with a scientific career. One example of this is our flagship careers event, Chem Careers, which this year focuses on the theme of returning to work after a career break - for example, to bring up a family."

Related Link

175 Faces of Chemistry

175 Faces of Chemistry

As part of the Royal Society of Chemistry's 175th anniversary celebrations, we will be recognising 175 diverse chemical scientists, as nominated by the community

Related Links

Link icon ChemCareers 2013 ONLINE
The 5 day online event will feature a variety of themed days, including; alternatives to university, teaching and returning to work

External links will open in a new browser window

Contact and Further Information

Press Office