Women have been making scientific breakthroughs for just as long as men. So why do we still not see or hear enough from them? On International Women’s Day, Geneticist Aoife McLysaght explores.
Dublin: 08.03.2014 11.57PM
Prof Nancy Hopkins
To mark International Women’s Week, Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will be giving a lecture in Dublin this week on her work as an advocate for women in science.
The event is being organised by the Centre for Women in Science & Engineering Research (WiSER), which is based at Trinity College Dublin.
Hopkins will discuss her work as an advocate for women in science over almost two decades since her appointment in 1995 to chair the first Committee on Women Faculty in the School of Science.
At that time only one in 12 faculty members in MIT's School of Science were women. In 1999, Hopkins published a summary of her committee's findings on the status of women in the science faculty at MIT.
This report and the work of the committee paved the way for national efforts within the US to increase the numbers of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and also inspired global initiatives in other universities.
At Wednesday's event in Dublin, Hopkins will describe barriers to women's advancement that were identified and how MIT addressed them administratively.
Hopkins has lectured widely in the US, and also in Europe and Asia on the under-representation of women in STEM fields in academia.
She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy.
Hopkins obtained her PhD from Harvard University in 1971. As a post-doctoral fellow, she worked at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory under James D Watson who had won the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA in 1953 along with Francis Crick.
In 1973, Hopkins joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in the Center for Cancer Research. Her lab worked in three areas: mechanisms of leukemogenesis by mouse RNA tumour viruses; the genetics of early vertebrate development using the zebrafish; and use of the zebrafish as a cancer model.
Hopkins is currently on sabbatical to study cancer prevention.
Her lecture will take place at 6.30pm this Wednesday, 6 March, at European Union House on Dawson Street, Dublin 2. It is free to attend.
On International Women’s Day, 8 March, Silicon Republic launches Women Invent Tomorrow, a year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. Watch this space!