Women’s Physics Network’s Rebecca French honoured with WiSET Award
Postgraduate researcher Rebecca French has been recognised for her exceptional contribution toward gender equality with a Women in Science, Engineering & Technology (WiSET) Award.
She was presented a WiSET Award Trophy and cash prize alongside fellow winner Emma Osborne of Mathematical Sciences in a Highfield Campus ceremony on Wednesday 9th May.
“There are so many incredible people across the University who work tirelessly to raise the profiles of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM), not only within our University, but in countries around the world,” Rebecca says. “I've always been blown away by the achievements of the recipients of past WiSET Awards, and so I feel very humbled to be awarded at the same level as them.”
Rebecca completed an MPhys Physics degree at Southampton in 2014 and continued in the department with a PhD in compact spectral imaging systems, involving visiting research at the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel in Paris.
“I was surprised to find that women don’t have a better representation in physics internationally because it was one of the most popular subjects at my girls’ school,” she explains. “I soon became motivated to change the culture in science in order to alter the perception of what a scientist looks like, and to encourage girls and women to study and work in science. I’m also pleased to say that Southampton’s Physics and Astronomy department has always been extremely supportive of all of their students, regardless of gender.”
Rebecca has been a member of the Women’s Physics Network (WPN) since its first meeting in 2014 and served as a Chair or Co-Chair of the WPN Committee over the past three years. The network organises seminars, talks and outreach events that promote the career development of women and champion gender equality and diversity in the department.
Rebecca has also contributed as the postgraduate representative for Physics and Astronomy’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee since 2016 and acted as a positive role model by helping deliver public engagement activities like the University’s Light Express Roadshow and the WISE Campaign's People Like Me workshop for girls and their mothers.
This month, Physics and Astronomy at Southampton has also been recognised for its commitment to tackling gender inequality with an Athena SWAN Silver Award. The status builds upon Bronze Award status granted in 2015 and reflects a continued drive to improve the life and culture of all people in the department.