By Gay Collins.
Challenging the lack of women in science with Cancer Research UK and the Women of Influence campaign.
A lack of female leaders in senior roles is an issue across many industries, and science is not immune. Too many women leave the world of science and research, with few reaching positions of leadership in comparison to their male counterparts. Cancer Research UK identified that the research field was losing talented people who are at the forefront of making discoveries that save lives. This lack of senior women further results in less visible role models for young women just starting out in their scientific careers.
To tackle this issue, Cancer Research UK approached myself and a group of influential women in business and together we formed the Women of Influence campaign. Launched in 2014 and chaired by Tamara Box, Managing Partner at the international law firm Reed Smith, each member of the Women of Influence Board mentors a female scientist, helping them overcome the challenges they face and supporting them to continue researching cancer. They also set a target of raising £1 million to fund life-saving work being carried out by these young, female scientists.
This initiative has captured the imagination of many, over a short period of time. One in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives and so we need the very best scientists, both male and female, to drive forward discoveries. Currently not enough women are making it through to the highest levels in science due to challenges they face throughout their careers, so it is vital that we help to stem this loss through effective and practical mentoring.
Since its inception, the Women of Influence campaign has supported Cancer Research UK female Fellows to incredible achievements. Over the period of the campaign 184 papers have been published, 73 awards and recognitions received, 77 further grants worth £37m have been secured and 1 patent has been filed. On top of this, a Women of Influence Fellow, Sophie Acton was awarded the L’Oréal Women in Science Award this year, an initiative Sophie was encouraged to enter by her Women of Influence mentor, increasing her funding and hence furthering her career.
With breakthroughs within our grasp, we want to see more female scientists reach the top of their careers. The Women of Influence campaign has a dual aim of providing both funding and personal support, helping to ensure women rise to the top of their fields, giving us the best possible chance of beating cancer sooner.
The success of the Woman of Influence campaign is also seen in the support it has received from a diverse and impressive list of organisations who have clearly identified the relevance of this gender inequality issue within their own industries. In response to this, the campaign has created their flagship fundraising event Bags, Bangles and Brooches, to give women in business an opportunity to support them.
Bags, Bangles and Brooches is an exciting fundraising evening that gives guests the opportunity to bid for a host of highly desirable prizes. By bidding on the truly extraordinary auction items, guests have the chance not only to get something amazing, but also to DO something amazing.
Bags, Bangles and Brooches takes place in London on December 6th. Tickets cost £85 with 100% of the proceeds going towards funding female scientists at Cancer Research UK. It’s a great cause and we’d love your support. Find out more information on Bags, Bangles & Brooches and Cancer Research UK’s Women of Influence.
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Gay Collins has 26 years experience in PR and specialises in advising companies in the financial services space. She’s a Founding Partner of Montfort Communications, where she heads up financial services, a Founding Steering Committee member of the 30% Club, a Board Nember of Cancer Research UK’s “Women of Influence”, a Non Executive Director and the Senior Independent Director of JP Morgan Global Growth and Income Trust plc.