The Athena SWAN Charter
Launched in 2005, the Athena SWAN Charter works with its partners to develop and disseminate good practice in science, engineering and technology (SET) higher education and research, with the aim of the advancement of women. The Biochemical Society was a founding sponsor and co-funded the Charter, which makes awards to universities and SET departments based on their gender equality practises. See the current Athena Swan award holders.
Together with several other learned societies we hosted an Athena SWAN Biosciences Best Practice event on 10 December 2015. Two blog posts written by the workshop attendees are available online:
"Five things I learned at the Athena SWAN bioscience event" by Rachel Adams, Cardiff Metropolitan University
"Tackling underrepresentaion of women in science" by Zenobia Lewis, University of Liverpool
WISE CEO Charter
The Biochemical Society is a signatory of WISE’s Chief Executive Officer Charter. In doing so, our senior management makes visible its commitment to embedding support for gender equality. Find out more on the WISE website.
Women in Biochemistry Year
In 2013, we celebrated the centenary of the admission of female members of the Society with a series of initiatives. These included supporting Ada Lovelace Day 2013, organising a series of high school lectures given by female Biochemists and sponsoring Women in Science sessions at the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) annual conference 2013. Other projects are indicated below.
Sponsorship of a Daphne Jackson Fellow
The agreement to sponsor a Daphne Jackson fellow in 2013 formed part of the Society’s activities to celebrate 100 years of women in the Biochemical Society. Dr Marjorie Gibbon began completed her 2 year fellowship in May 2016. The Biochemical Society is currently sponsoring another Daphne Jackson Fellow, Dr Helen Thompson, who began her fellowship in 2016 and is due to complete it in August 2018.
History of women in biochemistry research projects
The Biochemical Society appreciate the value of reporting and cataloguing our rich history of biochemistry in the UK. As part of our centenary celebrations in 2011, research was undertaken in conjunction with the University of Warwick to provide an insight into the work and lives of women biochemists in Britain from the inception of the Biochemical Journal in 1906 to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. This work was led by Professor Robert B. Freedman (Biological Sciences), Dr Vicky Long and Professor Hilary Marland at the University of Warwick. Read more about our collaborative project with the University of Warwick.
To continue our exploration of the role of women in biochemistry in the 20th century, we undertook a research project to investigate the lives and work of female biochemists from 1945-1975. This involved the collection of data from 35 years of Biochemical Journal archives, obituary and biographical databases, published books and institutional archives. It also involved the identification of living women authors and gaining insight into their experiences first-hand via questionnaires and interviews.
In November 2008, the Biochemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET launched two reports examining the retention of women with PhDs in chemistry or molecular biosciences - 'The chemistry PhD: the impact on women's retention' and 'The molecular bioscience PhD and women's retention: a survey and comparison with chemistry'.