On 17th October myself and a small group of  intrepid female scientists enjoyed a totally inspiring day about the amazing achievements of women scientists both in the 20th century and right now. After meeting up at the bus station in Norwich we enjoyed a screening of the acclaimed film Hidden Figures (2016) at Cinema City. The film tells the true story of how three gifted, black female mathematicians helped make history by playing a key role in America’s programme to put its first man into space in 1961. This was against a backdrop of a country where racial segregation was still was the norm and they has to fight prejudice and ignorance just to be allowed to use their brilliant minds and play their part.In the afternoon, real-life ‘Rocket Woman’ Vinita Marwaha Madill (Space Operations Engineer, European Space Agency, and former spacesuit designer) discussed the film, and the topics it raised along with Dr Laura Bowater (Professor of Microbiology Education and Engagement, UEA) and Rachel Jarrold (Director of Sciences, Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form). Though the student audience was a little reluctant to share their views and reactions, it was inspiring to hear how these women had achieved their goals in the world of science. We left in no doubt as to what women could achieve in science today and, thankfully without having to fight against quite the same degree of prejudice and misogyny that women of previous generations have had to. We were also clear about the huge demand for scientists and engineers in Britain right now and the huge range of exciting careers out there.

Mrs O’Grady