Soapbox science at Speakers' Corner

Women scientists get on their soapboxes to inspire next generation

Motor neurone disease, menopause and nutrition are just some of the subjects being covered by women scientists who are taking over Speakers’ Corner in Nottingham to share their knowledge with a series of exciting talks and debate.

Women academics from the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University are bringing Soapbox Science back to Speakers’ Corner on Saturday 13th July from 11-2pm.

The speakers will engage the public in ground-breaking research, sharing their experience and expertise on a range of topics and challenge traditional science gender stereotypes.

Soapbox Science is a novel public outreach platform promoting women scientists and the science they do. The events started in London in 2011 and have since spread globally to showcase 2,500 scientists who have presented to over 300,000 attendees and counting! When Soapbox Science arrives, it transforms the venue into an arena for public learning and scientific debate. Each event showcases 12 inspirational women speakers from the world of science, technology, engineering, medicine, and maths.

Rebecca Dewey is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Science and a past presenter and organiser of the event, she said:

“It’s so important for the next generation of scientists that there’s better representation of all genders in science. Each time you put dynamic exciting speakers in front of children and their families you boost the chances of one of them thinking ‘yeah – I can do that!’. Budding scientists need to see themselves represented in the population of scientists they see. That’s what we want to do – it’s not just about selling the science but more importantly the scientist. This is going to be a really fun day for people walking by Speakers’ Corner, and you might learn some science!”

Speakers’ Corner Trust promotes freedom of speech, public debate and active citizenship. In 2008 the Trust worked with Nottingham City Council to establish Nottingham Speakers’ Corner in King Street. Since then many individuals and organisations have used the spot, just in front of the Brian Clough statue, to campaign, to protest and to hold vigils. The space is available for anyone to use.

Zahraa Al-Ahmady, Associate Professor at Nottingham Trent University and part of Nottingham Soapbox Women in Science Organising Committee said:

“Soapbox Science empowers female scientists by providing a platform to share their research with the public, fostering greater visibility and recognition. This innovative initiative helps to break down gender stereotypes in STEM, inspiring the next generation of female scientists and promoting diversity in the field”.

Helena Gomes from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham said:

“As organisers, we were very happy with our last event in 2022. More than 750 people attended, 97% of visitors found it ‘enjoyable’ or ‘extremely enjoyable’, and also most of them just happened to walk by’ and hadn’t planned to visit. This means that we are reaching a wider audience than traditional science festivals”. 

Louise Third MBE Chair of the national charity Speakers’ Corner Trust said:

“What better place to learn from each other than to gather in the open air and listen to some amazingly talented speakers? These university scientists will inspire the next generation of female innovative thinkers so we are delighted they have chosen to stand at Speakers’ Corner in Nottingham.”

The speakers and their discussion topics can be found here

Posted on 09 July 2024

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Georgia Cowdrey