Here come the girls: getting more women into STEM

February 11, 2023

Professor Dame Athene Donald has quite the list of firsts under her belt: first female postdoc in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Cornell University, first female lecturer in Cambridge’s Physics Department, first female professor in any of Cambridge’s Physical Sciences and first female Master at Churchill College. She is considered by many to be a role model for future generations of young female scientists. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Society, has been awarded several prizes by the Institute of Physics (CV Boys Prize, Mott Medal, and Faraday Medal), and in 2009, was awarded the L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Europe for Women in Science. Professor Dame Athene Donald Professor Dame Athene DonaldSo it may seem surprising that when asked what attracted her to study physics, she says simply that it just made sense to her: there was no moment of inspiration, no female scientist that served as a role model, just a young girl who understood. She acknowledges that she was fortunate enough to attend a girls’ grammar school where she was taught by a teacher who had qualified in physics at Oxford, but says of her teacher: “She was always capable of answering my questions, but it wasn't so much she inspired me, it was that she didn't turn me off.”

Professor Dame Athene Donald has quite the list of firsts under her belt: first female postdoc in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Cornell University, first female lecturer in Cambridge’s Physics Department, first female professor in any of Cambridge’s Physical Sciences and first female Master at Churchill College.

She is considered by many to be a role model for future generations of young female scientists. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Society, has been awarded several prizes by the Institute of Physics (CV Boys Prize, Mott Medal, and Faraday Medal), and in 2009, was awarded the L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Europe for Women in Science.

Professor Dame Athene Donald

Professor Dame Athene Donald

So it may seem surprising that when asked what attracted her to study physics, she says simply that it just made sense to her: there was no moment of inspiration, no female scientist that served as a role model, just a young girl who understood.

She acknowledges that she was fortunate enough to attend a girls’ grammar school where she was taught by a teacher who had qualified in physics at Oxford, but says of her teacher: “She was always capable of answering my questions, but it wasn't so much she inspired me, it was that she didn't turn me off.”

The source of this news is from University of Cambridge

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