Equality and Diversity Champions: Connecting Science on International Women’s Day 2020

Date: 5 March 2020

These awards reward those who actively embrace the Wellcome Genome Campus’ mission to support the development of the careers of women and under-represented groups.

Each year the Wellcome Genome Campus celebrates International Women’s Day with awards for Best Practice for Supporting Equality and Diversity in Science. These awards were created to reward those who actively embrace the Campus’ mission to support the development of the careers of women and under-represented groups. This year staff at the Campus nominated 26 colleagues for their efforts to advance equality, diversity and inclusion, to positively impact working life on the Campus.

We are very pleased to announce that our Head of Strategy, Dr Ireena Dutta, was one of the three joint winners! Ireena was nominated for her passion for equality and diversity in science, and her encouragement of women returning from or going on maternity leave. Her absolute resolve is that having a family should in no way impact a woman’s career and she is an outstanding supporter of career development. Her nominator also said: ‘We need more advocates like Ireena not only in science but in all organisations, she is a beacon of hope for the future.’

I’m surprised and very happy to have won this award, but I feel this isn’t really about me. It is more of a wider acknowledgement of the barriers and challenges that certain groups including women can face in their careers. It is great to think I’ve made a positive contribution towards addressing those challenges by advocating for colleagues and supporting flexible working policies and practices.
Dr Ireena Dutta, Head of Strategy at Connecting Science

Equality and Diversity winners at Wellcome Genome Campus International Womens Day 2020
Winners, left to right: Lindsay Crosswell (EMBL-EBI), Ireena Dutta (Connecting Science), Hannah Hurst (ELIXIR)

Julian Rayner, Director of Connecting Science added: ‘I’m enormously proud of Ireena for winning this award and of the emphasis that Connecting Science puts on diversity and inclusion more widely. This commitment has led to action on numerous fronts, including the speaker equity policy in Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences, the provision of a family room in the Conference Centre, and the emphasis on diversity of scientists and science careers within Public Engagement. Ireena is a visible champion of this work, and her personal conviction and commitment is an inspiration.’

Another Connecting Science team member, Dr Susan Wallace from Public Engagement, was nominated for an award for her commitment to supporting Campus staff, through her role as Researcher Engagement Coordinator, helping make their public engagement ideas a reality. Her nominator said: ‘She introduced public engagement to me and has been so supportive along the way, making sure I never feel overwhelmed. She is an inspiring woman to be around, standing up for what she believes in and through other events such as public speaking course, and doesn’t realise how much confidence and life lessons she is providing people all around campus with.’

Two colleagues who work with Susan through the Public Engagement Enabling Fund, Hannah Currant (Wellcome Sanger Institute) and Harriet Craven (EMBL-EBI), received special recognition at the event. They were commended for their passion for diversifying science, expressed through their work organising and deliver stimulating STEM activities for girls in Cambridge, and providing excellent role models to inspire young women to get into science.

Equality and Diversity winners and commendees at Wellcome Genome Campus International Womens Day 2020
Winners and special commendations, left to right: Sampurna Mukherjee, Lindsay Crosswell, Hannah Hurst, Sean Laidlow, Harriet Craven, Hannah Currant, Ireena Dutta

The other winners

Lindsey Crosswell, Head of External Relations at EMBL-EBI, has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to developing the Equality in Science programme on Campus over several years. As a result of her influence, the first specialist Gender Project Officer was appointed at EMBL-EBI in 2016, a role that has since expanded to include all aspects of Equality and Diversity.

Hannah Hurst is Project Manager at ELIXIR, the pan-European infrastructure for sharing biological data and has taken responsibility for equality and diversity across the ELIXIR Hub. Hannah worked on producing an Equal Opportunities Strategy document for use across ELIXIR’s international nodes and successfully piloted the ELIXIR Code of Conduct at several events.

A further two people also received Special Commendations: Sean Laidlow (Sanger Institute) and Sampurna Mukherjee (EMBL-EBI).

The Campus-wide Equality in Science Programme aims to raise awareness about issues facing women and marginalised groups in science, provides development opportunities, generates discussion and drives policy and practice change.

Read more about culture change initiatives that Connecting Science teams have been implementing: