Reflecting on International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Posted on: 11/02/2021

Reflecting on International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to celebrate and to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.

Far too often women are overlooked when we look back at groundbreaking scientific discoveries. History is full of women who made enormous contributions to science, even when they were excluded from formal education.

“More still needs to be done to encourage women and girls into science and ensure recognition for scientific discoveries is equally acknowledged,” says Siwan Smith, Diversity and Inclusion Knowledge Transfer Manager at KTN.

“In many areas of science females are under represented with an inability to both attract and retain females within key sectors. There is a decreasing proportion of females interested and pursuing STEM subjects from secondary school to further education and then into the workforce. Diversity has been demonstrated to both increase performance and commercial success and hence we must urgently understand and address the barriers to enable increased female representation.”  says Kirsty Hewitson, Executive Director of Capability at KTN.

Today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It is with honour that we take time to reflect on all the pioneering women in science and innovation and look to ensure full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation support for future generations.


Dana Heldt, Industrial Biotechnology Knowledge Transfer Manager at KTN, shares her thoughts on science, and her education.



“If my biology and chemistry teachers knew I now have a PhD in Biochemistry and worked in genetic engineering in previous jobs, they wouldn’t believe this.

Back in school, I was never really interested in science in general. We rarely did any “cool” scientific experiments and most lessons focused on theoretical knowledge. However, when we finally came to learn about genetics I was hooked.

I wasn’t inspired by a person working in this field or by my teacher, but the subject itself. DNA, invisible to the human eye, carries the information of what we are – humans, animals, plants, microorganism. We all have the same basic parts of DNA and yet the complexity and difference of each is enormous. It is the key to life!”


Sally Beken, Polymers Knowledge Transfer Manager at KTN reflects on science, and her career.



Research examining gender differences in secondary school achievement has consistently shown that females outperform males across a range of subjects including those in STEM. Read more here.

So, there you have it, there’s no intellectual reason why STEM subjects are not for females. For me, it’s always been that simple. I enjoyed science and was good at it. I never thought ‘science is for boys’ or ‘I can’t peruse what I’m interested in’; and neither should you, whatever gender you are.

So after doing as ok at secondary school as the boys, I studied Chemistry at university and got hooked on polymers enough to be awarded a PhD in Polymer Science. My career has taken me to the US, Malaysia, much of Europe and I’m proud to have patented polymer formulations for life-saving medical devices.

I now work closely with initiatives by the government to solve the plastics waste crisis and have been lucky enough to meet one of my idols Sir David Attenborough!



Najwa Sidqi, Quantum Technologies Knowledge Transfer Manager at KTN shares her thoughts on science, and her education.


I stumbled in quantum 5 years ago after several years of study and experience in different physics disciplines. I have been always fascinated by the beauty of these sciences and how they explored nature and the universe. As a female scientist and a minority in my field, my path was not always as shiny as it may look, and I often had to prove and justify my position.

I was very lucky to grow up in a household where the word “impossible” was not part of our language. To my parents, there was nothing I couldn’t do or be if I work hard at it and I strongly believe this made a huge a difference during my studies and now professional path. I had also the privilege to work with great men and women who shared guidance and knowledge unconditionally.

I am so happy to witness a cultural and mentality shift where gender and diversity issues in sciences are seriously looked at, to pave the way for more girls and women.

We ask that you celebrate the day with us by sharing your journey in science, on LinkedIn, to help inspire future generations!

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