University of Birmingham to host International Conference on Women in Physics

Between 17 and 20 July, the University of Birmingham will welcome Physicists from around the world for the sixth IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics. The conference is being jointly hosted by the Institute of Physics (IOP), and the Universities of Warwick and Nottingham.

Held every three years since 2002, the conference seeks to share and create good practice and strategic policy for improving opportunities for female Physicists at all stages of their careers. The conference will examine a range of issues including how girls are taught Physics, professional development and leadership opportunities, and changing cultural perceptions of Physicists.

On the first evening of the conference (17 July), the IOP will present Birmingham Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell with the President's Medal in recognition of her outstanding contributions to Physics and unparalleled record of leadership within the community. Following the presentation, Professor Burnell will give a talk reflecting on being a woman in Physics in the United Kingdom over the last 50 years; on making a significant Astrophysical discovery (pulsars); and on combining professional and family life. To book your place at the ceremony, please visit the online event page.

To mark the conference, the organisers have commissioned a unique audiovisual installation which celebrates the diversity of females Physicists. Developed as a collaboration between Electroacoustic Composer Dr Annie Mahtani, Anthropologist Liz Hingley, and Theoretical Physicist and Chair of the Conference Local Organising Committee Professor Nicola Wilkin, 'Finding Space' will offer intimate insights into the working lives of female Physicists. A curated selection of images of female Physicists workplaces submitted by conference delegates will be projected onto the University's iconic clock tower to an immersive soundscape created using recordings from the University of Birmingham's School of Physics & Astronomy and solar frequency data measured by Birmingham Solar-Oscillations Network (BiSON). Visitors will be guided though the immersive 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 at the University 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 Professor Wilkin) are currently on display in the rotunda space. Liz Hingley and Dr Mahtani, will lead a tour of both exhibitions during the conference.

Throughout the conference, Dr Mahtani will record interviews with delegates talking about their lives, work and inspirations. The content of these interviews will then be shared as tweets before being incorporated into a further work in response to the conference, which will be available on the University of Birmingham website and archived.

Liz Hingley will be the official photographer for the conference, capturing portraits of delegates on 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 from the conference and used to support outreach activities aimed at encouraging more girls and women to pursue careers in Physics.