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World's only Women in Science Festival returns to Dundee

4 March 2016

Dundee’s Women in Science Festival, begins tomorrow (Saturday 5 March)!

It is the only event of its kind in the world, bringing authors, academics and entertainers together to celebrate the achievements of female Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) pioneers.

The aim of the festival is to highlight the many opportunities there are for women to pursue a career in science and related subjects.

More than 20 exhibitions, talks, film screenings, fun days and other events will take place across the city, including here at Abertay.

On Tuesday 8 March (International Women’s Day) we will be hosting a screening of ‘Pram in the Hall’ – a BBC documentary that was created as part of Artsnight on BBC 2.

It is presented by the model Lily Cole and looks at the life and work of Barbara Hepworth, who juggled bringing up four children with her artistic career. Lionel Shriver also delivers an essay on the joys of childlessness.

The screening will be followed by a talk from Dr Suzanne Zeedyk entitled 'Mothers: forever caught in the cultural crossfire'.

Suzanne will explore the idea that the socio-economic framework of any historical period carries a narrative about what women are 'supposed' to do: stay at home with the kids or go out to work?

She argues that the anguish many women feel – in trying to weave a path between that narrative and their own personal needs – frequently remains hidden and private, and asks “if we could make that anguish more public, would it help women? Or would it just make our society today feel even more troubled?”

Suzanne will explore these questions by linking the themes of Lily Cole's film with recent media stories about all-night nurseries for children and 'benefits scroungers'. She will ask whether the science of attachment might be able to help in resolving women's anguish, and is likely to conclude that attachment can go a long way toward making sense of our cultural expectations, but that it does not provide a solution for women themselves.

This event is part of the ‘Mother Load: Dundee’ exhibition in our art gallery, the Hannah Maclure Centre, and will take place in the cinema from 6.30 – 8pm. It is free to attend, but booking is essential. Please email or phone 01382 308324 to book your free place.

On Thursday 10 March, we will be screening the sci-fi film Ex Machina about a young programmer who is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a humanoid A.I.

The film screening with be accompanied by a discussion with Dr Karen Petrie from the University of Dundee, who is an expert in artificial intelligence. Karen will share her thoughts on the science within the movie and discuss points raised by the audience.

To book your free place, please email or phone 01382 308324.

Elsewhere, authors Emily Dodd and Lucy Hawking will be visiting Dundee to take part in Women in Science. Emily will host two events on Sunday, 6 March.

‘The Grouse and The Mouse’ aims to teach youngsters aged 3-8 about the countryside and ‘Love You to the Moon and Back’ is a Mother’s Day family science show and workshop. Lucy will invite youngsters to ‘Explore the Universes’ on 19 March through her books narrated by her father, the esteemed physicist Stephen Hawking.

Other highlights include ‘A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie’, which takes place at Dundee Rep on Monday 7 March and coincides with the theatre’s performance of Christie’s ‘Witness for the Prosecution’.

The author used poison to bump off her characters more than any other murder method. Dr Kathryn Harkup, a chemist, freelance science communicator and Christie fan whose new book investigates the poisons her murderers used and how they killed, will talk about the subject on the Rep stage with the play’s set as a backdrop.

Speaking about the festival, Organiser Shabnam Wasim, from the University of Dundee, said:

“Women in Science is a fantastic way of celebrating the successes of women and the exceptional work carried out by female scientists and women in other STEM subjects.

“Thanks to some truly exceptional female pioneers, more and more women are achieving great things in science. Despite this, studies have shown that fewer women with a STEM-related degree actually go on to work in the sector than their male counterparts. Dundee’s Women in Science Festival is aimed at encouraging more young women to get involved with science and then stay with it as a rewarding career choice.

“It is important that women working in science continue to act as role models and encourage young women to follow up on their interest in science and pursue careers in subjects that might have been traditionally dominated by men but that are now being enhanced by the involvement of women.”

A full programme and further information is available on the Dundee Women in Science Festival website.


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

Notes to Editors:

Women in Science 2016 takes place at venues across Dundee in March. The festival is organised by the University of Dundee with events in partnership with Abertay University, the James Hutton Institute, Dundee Rep, Dundee Science Centre and the University of St. Andrews. The Festival is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Biochemical Society.

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