Celebrating Women Scientists

Today is Ada Lovelace Day so in the spirit of the day I'm sharing some inspirational history. In spite of the fact that neither of us now work as scientists I'd like to dedicate this Ada Lovelace Day blog post to Dr Yvonne Beale and the exhibition that wouldn't have existed without her.

Back in 2002, Yvonne and I were members of Edinburgh Women's Science Forum (EWSF).  I had been a member and an office bearer for over ten years and met Yvonne a couple of years earlier at Orkney Science Festival.  She came to Edinburgh to study for a PhD in genetics and got involved in EWSF activities.

Although there is still a need for groups like EWSF, this particular organisation seemed to have reached the end of its natural life span but Yvonne inspired me and the rest of the group to create a small legacy before closed down fully. We proposed to spend our remaining funds on a flexible exhibition that could easily travel to different locations for a few years after we wound up.

EWSF had started in 1989 with an exhibition about female scientists past and present.  It was shown at the Edinburgh International Science Festival that year and then toured many Scottish schools until it was worn out and more than a bit dated. This is what it looked like in around 1996.

International Women's Day celebrations in Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh
It formed the starting point for our new work. We kept the core Scottish subjects but widened the scope to include international high achievers. We created 19 panels covering the stories of women who worked in the sciences in some form in the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition was launched at the Edinburgh International Science Festival 2003 to mark the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie's first Nobel Prize. As well as the exhibition, we had a special screening of the 1943 film Madame Curie followed by an audience discussion with Professor Victoria Amador at Filmhouse Cinema.

Madeleine, Yvonne and Victoria

The exhibition went on to be shown in the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, the John Innes Centre, Norwich and quite a few more.  It was part of the launch event for what is now Equate Scotland, then called the Scottish Resource Centre for Women in SET.

at the launch of the Scottish Resource Centre
The panels now sit in a folder in my study and haven't been out for a long time.  So I thought I'd share a few of them here on Ada Lovelace Day.  I've picked ones that haven't gone out of date and included Ada herself.  Hope you enjoy them.


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