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Women scientists get on their soapbox to inspire next generation

Vaccines, snakebites and new treatments for brain tumours are some of the subjects being covered by women scientists who are taking over Speakers’ Corner in Nottingham to share their knowledge with the general public on July 16.

Soapbox science
Soapbox Science events take place across the world (Image:

Women academics from the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Birmingham and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine are bringing the first ever in-person Soapbox Science event to Speakers’ Corner to engage the public in ground-breaking research and challenge traditional science gender stereotypes.

Soapbox Science is a novel public outreach platform promoting women scientists and the science they do. The events take place across the world and transform public areas into an arena for public learning and scientific debate. There are 12 inspirational women speakers from the world of science, technology, medicine and engineering taking part in the Nottingham event with talks throughout the day – 11-1pm, 1-2pm and 2-3pm.

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.

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.”

Dr Zahraa Al-Ahmady, a senior lecturer in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology and a member of Nottingham Soapbox Women in Science Organising Committee, said:  We are delighted to finally see our first in-person Nottingham Soapbox Women in Science is taking place this July This event is unique in the way it promotes women as scientists and addresses gender equality in science. We have 12 fantastic female scientists who are going to stand on their soapboxes and tell us all about their journey and the amazing science they do.”

The speakers and their discussion topics can be found here

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email.

    More information is available from Helena Gomes in the School of Engineering at the University of Nottingham Rebecca Dewey on Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5751,

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens. The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent. NTU was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards). It was the University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards). NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with over 33,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 4,000 and an NTU community representing around 160 countries. In the past 15 years, NTU has invested £450 million in tools, technology and facilities. NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2019 UCAS UG acceptance data) It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. 75% of NTU students go on to graduate-level employment or graduate-entry education / training within fifteen months of graduating (Guardian University Guide 2021). NTU is 4th globally (and 3rd in the UK) for sustainability in the 2021 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

    The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. The University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its status as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published on 11 July 2022
  • Subject area: Sciences including sport sciences
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Science and Technology