Celebrating International Women's Day

Birdseye image of a full theatre
Paul Clarke

To mark International Women's Day, and to kick-off British Science Week supporting the British Science Association's ongoing campaign of Smashing Stereotypes, we wanted to celebrate the importance of women in STEM.  

The Ri has opened its doors to women since its beginnings and continues to champion their contribution to science throughout all our activities. The first talk given by a woman was all the way back in 1923, when British archaeologist Joan Evans gave a Discourse titled "Jewels of the Renaissance".  

Since then, women have been speaking at the Ri in abundance, with 11 taking the prestigious role of Christmas Lecturer, starting with Susan Greenfield in 1994 and most recently, Dame Sue Black in 2022.  

Athene Donald - Why we need more women in science

We were thrilled to welcome esteemed physicist Dame Athene Donald to the Ri in November 2023 as part of our continued efforts to celebrate and advocate for pioneering women in STEM.  

Unfortunately, many of the comments on the video on our YouTube channel did not share these beliefs, challenging our efforts to make both our home in London and our online spaces welcoming, respectful and safe for all.

However many people do share our beliefs in ensuring diversity across the sciences, and many of those joined us when we hosted Ada Lovelace Day Live in October 2023.

Ada Lovelace Day 2023

Ada Lovelace is credited with publishing the first computer programme in the world in 1843, and is known for her work with "father of the computer" Charles Babbage. Her work and talent was widely recognised, catching the attention of none other than Michael Faraday as her academic admirer.  

Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) is a chance to celebrate and spotlight women in STEM, increasing their profile and encouraging the younger generation to follow in their predecessors' footsteps. The annual flagship show has been hosted at the Ri twice - in 2014 and 2023. 

ICYMI in 2023, explore some of the remarkable women who joined us in the Theatre for ALD below. 

Why she should be angry about UTIs - with Professor Jenny Rohn

Upwards of 400 million people (mostly women) get a urinary tract infection annually, a figure that's on the rise and which is associated with a worrying global crisis of antibiotic failure. Jenny and her team are working hard to find better ways to treat this notoriously tricky infection, where the bacteria have evolved many devious strategies to subvert our immune defences. 

Watch the full video here



3D printing artificial organs - with Dr Antonia Pontiki

3D printing shows great potential not just for customised healthcare solutions but also for prototyping and research. Dr Antonia Pontiki explores the vast applications of 3D printing, and how it could revolutionise not just medical practice but medical education. 

Watch the full video here

Tom Lehrer's Elements - with Helen Arney

Helen Arney performs Tom Lehrer' Elements, which he set to a tune by Arthur Sullivan. This version includes all of the 16 elements discovered (or, more accurately, synthesised in a laboratory) since the song was first written in 1959. 

Watch the full video here


Making Bayesian statistics fun - with Sophie Carr

Within each of us lies a superpower: a tool that can transform our discomfort into confidence if we only acknowledge that hidden within us is a statistician trying to get out. 

Having made a living out of finding patterns, Sophie Carr encourages us to embrace the realm of Bayesian statistics to grapple with the unknown everyday of our lives. 

Watch the full video here

Greening the ICT world - with Dr Azza Eltraify

Greening the ICT sector has emerged as a critical endeavour in our increasingly digitalised society. Join Azza as she explains how by greening the ICT, we not only reduce the environmental burden but also harness the potential of technology to drive a more eco-conscious and responsible digital future. 

Watch the full video here


The ancient technology of silk - with Aarathi Prasad

From the ancient uses of silk to the biologists who learned the secrets of silk-producing animals: manipulating the habitats, physiologies, and threads of moths, spiders and molluscs, Aarathi will explore the work of the key women who have led the understanding of natural history and developed technological applications of a unique material that has fascinated the world of millennia. 

Watch the full video here.

Women of wonder - with Rosie Curran Crawley

Jane Marcet's Conversations on Chemistry was first published anonymously in 1805 and is thought to be one of the first science textbooks. The book consists of conversations between a teacher, Mrs Bryant, and her two students Caroline and Emily. In this talk, Rosie invites us to take a step back to basics and remember what first sparked our own interest in science. 

Watch the full video here

Wonders of the Jurassic Coast - with Dr Anjana Khatwa

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is perhaps one of the most extraordinary places in the world, where you can literally time travel with every step you take along its beautiful beaches. Earth scientist and presenter extraordinaire Anjana will take us on a journey through this geological marvel, and the treasures that lie beneath our land. 

Watch the full video here

Ri Science Podcast

Explore previous episodes of our podcast from some leading female speakers. 

Understanding AlphaFold with Dame Janet Thornton

As part of the Ri on AI podcast series exploring the use on AI in scientific research, Ri event producer Lisa Derry spoke to the esteemed Dame Janet Thornton to discuss AlphaFold - the machine learning programme from DeepMind that can determine a protein structure from its amino acids alone. 

Janet is an oracle in the field of bioinformatics and former Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute, to discuss how AlphaFold has revolutionised its field, and what it could do in the future. 

Watch the full video episode here

How did the patriarchy develop across the world? - with Angela Saini and Julia Gillard

Recorded live in the Ri Theatre, join award-winning science journalist Angela Saini in conversation with former Australian prime-minister Julia Gillard, as they go in search of the roots of gendered oppression. 

Listen to the full episode here

Tackling climate change with innovation with Alyssa Gilbert and Katherine Mathieson

Undaunted is a collaboration between the Ri and the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. Hear from Katherine Mathieson and Alyssa Gilbert, the two female directors on both sides of the collaboration, and learn about some of the groundbreaking innovations being developed to tackle the climate crisis head-on. 

Listen to the full episode here

How did females evolve? - with Lucy Cooke

Recorded live in the Ri Theatre, renowned zoologist and author Lucy Cooke explores what the animal kingdom tells us about female evolution. 

Listen to the full episode here

Celebrate British Science Week with Dr Emily Grossman

Blue question mark over a pink background
Towfiqu Barbhuiya via Unsplash

Join us on the penultimate night of British Science Week for a fun and interactive family quiz with Dr Emily. 

Emily will also be sealing the Ri time capsule to commemorate our 225th Anniversary. 

Find out more here

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