Harriet Brooks

A new play tells the story of the 1st Canadian Female Nuclear Physicist!

Actor and playwright Ellen Denny is on a mission to tell the world about her great great aunt Harriet Brooks.

Growing up, Ellen knew there was a scientist in her family, but it wasn’t until she read Harriet Brooks: Pioneer Nuclear Scientist by Geoffrey Rayner-Canham and Marelene Rayner-Canham that she began to understand who her great great aunt truly was, and what she was able to accomplish. As an established theatre actor curious to try playwriting, Harriet’s story of perseverance and sacrifice was the igniting spark for Ellen to write her first play, entitled Wonder. Now, more than four years into the creation process, her passion for telling this story has only increased…

How do we encourage more women to get into STEM?

This article is a summary of a report published by the Royal Society of Chemistry on the diversity landscape of the Chemical Science. The vast majority of this report is focused on women, which are clearly underrepresented in chemistry, and science in general. Women account for only 35% of scientists in STEM and earn less than their male counterparts. The current research suggests that women are less confident when it comes to putting themselves forward for leadership positions or in salary negotiations.

Vine Forest

It’s not just in STEM: Sexism outside of work holds scientists back

Sexism in STEM is rampant; you don’t need me to tell you that. From 113 pages of sexual assault/harassment allegations (U of R, 2017) to the Google engineer memo (also 2017), there are dozens of examples each year of sexism inside STEM environments. But it isn’t just the sexism that women experience in their fields – at conferences, in the office/lab, etc. – that makes it harder for women to succeed in STEM. Misogyny and sexism outside of the workplace can also negatively impact women’s performance at work, and thus the progress of their career and their science. How do two things, seemingly happening in different spheres, overlap?


Professional Responsibility in Research Science (and the lack thereof)!

The job of a scientist is immensely rewarding – but also technically challenging, and often riddled with administrative and institutional red tape. Learning how to navigate these challenges is critical for mastering the practice of science and advancing early career scientists (students, interns, post-docs, etc). The role of good mentors can set the stage for success. However, there is little discussion about the damage that can be wrought by a bad mentor.

Problems of scientific publishing – Is it scientists vs. journals? 

I clearly remember the moment when my first paper was published – oh, how proud I was. Finally, I felt like a proper scientist! When I told my (non-academic) family about it, one of the first things they asked was Great, so finally you get something out of your work! How much did they pay you for it? My answer, actually a little bit embarrassed: Uhm, nothing. But I did not have to pay THEM for publishing it, so that´s great! They did not get it. Why should they?

The paper review, or: emotional rollercoaster, here I come!

You handed in your first paper a while ago, and now you are waiting on the journal’s response. You are annoyed with them taking so long to finish their review, but on the other hand, you are getting really nervous every time you open your e-mails because they might have answered you?

Maybe your first paper was already rejected, or you had it accepted with major revision, and now you are absolutely terrified and have the impression that you might be incapable of being a proper scientist?

It´s not just you!