Finding Space - Celebrating what it is to be 'a woman in Physics'

The IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics will take place at the University of Birmingham from July 17-20 2017.  Jointly hosted by the University of Birmingham and the Institute of Physics and the Universities of Warwick and Nottingham, it seeks to share and create good practice and strategic policy for improving the opportunities at all stages of female physicist’s careers. 

The conference brings together country teams from around the world.  We will be celebrating the diversity of what it means to be a ‘female physicist’ with an art installation. The installation is the collaborative work of Dr Annie Mahtani, electroacoustic composer (University of Birmingham School of Languages, Cultures, Art History & Music), anthropologist Liz Hingley and Prof Nicola Wilkin, theoretical physicist and Chair of the Conference Local organizing committee.

The installation brings together the arts and science to offer a unique insight into the work of women in physics today as they push forward the boundaries of knowledge and impact people’s lives around the world.

At the invitation of the artists, the 200 women delegates have submitted images of their diverse working environments. The images will be projected 360 degrees around the alcove underneath the UoB clock tower. The screenings will highlight the historic architecture of the symbolic UoB building.  Responsive soundscapes created by Dr Mahtani from recordings taken in the University of Birmingham Physics department will accompany the screenings. The space will be enclosed with black drapes to create an immersive experience. Visitors will be guided though the installation by stewards during the conference period.

This collaborative project follows on from ‘Making Space; celebrating women from the University of Birmingham’, a project showcasing the role of women in the UoB and reflecting on the need to make a better space for women on campus and beyond. Photographic portraits by Liz Hingley of over 60 leading women (including Dr Mahtani and Prof Wilkin) are currently on display in the rotunda space. Liz Hingley and Dr Mahtani, will lead a tour of both exhibitions during the conference.

Conference documentation and publicity

To mark the conference at the University of Birmingham Dr Mahtani will record interviews with delegates talking about their lives’, work and inspirations’. She will create tweets to promote the event on social media and a significant soundscape responding to the conference, which will be available on the UoB website and archived.

Liz Hingley will be the official photographer for the conference, capturing portraits of delegates on the UoB campus throughout this historic event.

The screening will be uploaded to the University website alongside sound recordings and portraits of conference delegates to create a digital legacy – which will be of benefit for outreach activities, for the universities and the Institute of Physics.

UoB-Finding-Space-online-v2Download the flyer

Caption for the flyer: 

“Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the known universe making up 75% of normal matter. It is the building block of everything we know.

The visual for the flyer employs a simple atomic model for protium (hydrogen’s most common isotope). A single electron orbits a single positive nucleus made up of a single proton.

The atomic nucleus and positive charge symbol perform the second function of forming the female gender symbol – visually communicating the idea of women at the heart of physics."