International Day of Women in Science

A global day celebrating the contribution of women to science and highlighting barriers to full inclusion is being marked by the University.

Monday 11 February is the fourth United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

In keeping with the day, University leaders are reflecting on the progress made and the work still to be done.

Edinburgh women in STEM

In recent years, record numbers of women have been inspired to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Since 2014, the number of women studying postgraduate programmes with the University’s College of Science and Engineering has more than doubled.

Biological Sciences, Geosciences, Chemistry and Mathematics have all seen increases in the number of female students at undergraduate level in recent years.

 The University has worked hard to ensure that more women take up and stay in STEM subjects. Edinburgh has embraced employment flexibility, greater training opportunities and improved support for people with childcare responsibilities in order to support all staff. The University accepts that there is a great deal more to do but is committed to ensuring a more equal participation of women across all STEM subjects.

Professor Jane NormanVice-Principal People and Culture, the University of Edinburgh

Athena SWAN

Edinburgh is one of 160 universities and research institutes that are members of the Athena SWAN Charter.

The Charter is committed to the advancement and promotion of the careers of women in science, engineering, technology, mathematics and medicine in higher education and research.

The University won its first Athena Swan Institutional Bronze Award in 2006, which was successfully renewed in 2009 and 2012. In 2015, Edinburgh was the first Scottish university to achieve the silver award, which was renewed in 2018.

Roslin Institute award

The University’s Roslin Institute gained a prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award in 2018.

The award was presented for the Institute’s work promoting gender equality and supporting the career development of women working in science.

The Roslin Institute is the only higher education department in Scotland to hold the gold award.

Christina Miller Fellowships

The University’s Christina Miller fellowships help female and minority chemists progress from post-doctoral research to academic positions.

The fellowships encourage talented postdoctoral researchers from minorities who are traditionally less likely to follow an academic career or apply for such positions.  

They are named after Dr Christina Cruickshank Miller who was the first female chemist elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Sci Sisters network

The Sci Sisters network aims to bring together women working in leadership positions in STEM subjects across academia, government and industry.

One of the University’s leading scientists, Professor Polly Arnold, from the University’s School of Chemistry, established Sci-Sisters in 2017.

The group aims to combat isolation and create a network that offers support and highlights the work of women in Scotland working in STEM.

Scientific talent and problem solving ability is not gendered. All the evidence shows that it is societal attitudes, not brain wiring, that disproportionately discourage women from staying in science. Research has proven that when we assemble the most diverse teams, we get the best solutions to the most difficult problems.

Professor Polly ArnoldSchool of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh & Chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Inclusion and Diversity committee

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is celebrated every October and aims to raise the profile of women in STEM by encouraging people to talk about the women whose work they admire.

The University’s Information Services organises annual events including talks, activities and networking focused on of the achievements of women in STEM.

Edinburgh Seven

Sophia Jex-Blake led the Edinburgh Seven, the first women to matriculate at a British university, in the fight to allow women to qualify as doctors in Britain.

A plaque outside the University’s Surgeon's Hall commemorates their achievements.


UN Women

Athena SWAN

Roslin Institute award

Christina Miller Fellowships

Sci Sisters network

Ada Lovelace

Edinburgh Seven