World’s first virtual scientific conference for women in graphene
Connecting the global community of women working in the field of graphene and layered materials, the Graphene Flagship is hosting its first ever digital Women in Graphene conference on 18 and 19 March 2020.
The annual Women in Graphene conference has previously been held in person at Graphene Flagship partner institutions around Europe. In a bold and innovative move towards sustainable and accessible meetings, the 2020 event will instead be hosted online. Women in Graphene will make its digital debut on 3D conferencing platform, Virtway, opening the workshop to researchers of all genders all over the world.
Following International Women's Day on 8th March, the event looks to tackle the gender gap in the graphene and wider science field. Through a range of seminars and workshops, the Graphene Flagship's two-session event will challenge gender bias by connecting women working in the scientific field, promoting gender diversity and providing a support network for professional growth.
The event will feature keynote speakers, including Alessandra Scidà, researcher at the Graphene Flagship partner ISOF-CNR in Bologna, Italy, Ana Helman, Science Officer at the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg, France and Cinzia Spinato, Business Developer for the Graphene Flagship and Graphene Flagship partner ICN2, in Barcelona, Spain.
Attendees will also hear a motivational speech from Laura Kennington, an endurance athlete and an internationally acclaimed author and will be invited to take part in a negotiation skills workshop conducted by Sue Hewitt from Springboard Consultancy.
Scidà will open the event by outlining her successful career path. Her current research activity is focused on graphene derivative materials for flexible electronics and nanocomposites in the Graphene Flagship, where she collaborates with several leading European companies such as NOKIA, Airbus and CRF.
"There is still much that we need to do to tackle gender diversity in science and technology," explained Scidà. "Sparking an interest in science and nurturing girls to develop their interest into a career, starts at school level. I think it is exceptionally important to show the relevance of women's work in the scientific field and encourage young women to start their own career in science.
"That's where networking opportunities like the Graphene Flagship's Women in Graphene Career Development Day come in. When I joined the Graphene Flagship in 2014, the project allowed me to collaborate with the best research centres and companies in Europe. I want to share this experience with women of all ages and inspire them to forge their own paths in the science and technology field."
Moreover, for the first time ever, the event will also include a student speaker slot. Among many high quality applications received for this oral presentation, the Women in Graphene committee selected Bonnie Tsim, a PhD student from Graphene Flagship partner the University of Manchester, UK. "She triumphed over the stiff competition with a clear commitment to both her scientific work and gender diversity – she believes that by simply being visible, we can make the difference and inspire others," says Siân Fogden, leader of the Graphene Flagship Women in Graphene initiative.
"Since the launch of the Women in Graphene network in 2015, we have seen the network go from strength to strength," adds Fogden, who is also a Business Developer for the Graphene Flagship and Graphene Flagship partner the University of Cambridge, UK. "This year — for the first time since the network's inception — the Graphene Flagship is hosting Women in Graphene on a digital platform. Amidst worldwide travel concerns due to coronavirus, transferring the event to a digital conference is not only a sensible option, but a fruitful opportunity for us to include a far wider community of women."