Keynotes Speakers 2016

Dr Patricia Fara, Clare College, Cambridge, UK

Title: A Lab of One’s Own: Science & Suffrage in the First World War

Inspired by utopian dreams, H G Wells imagined a future characterized by science, equality and justice; and in 1919, the suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett declared triumphantly, ‘The war revolutionised the industrial position of women. It found them serfs, and left them free.’ Their optimism was premature. World War I did benefit British women by enabling them to take on traditionally male roles in science, engineering and medicine. But even though some women over 30 gained the right to vote, conventional hierarchies were rapidly re-established after the Armistice. Concentrating mainly on a small group of well-qualified scientific and medical women, marginalized at the time and also in the secondary literature, I review the attitudes they experienced and the work they undertook during and immediately after the War.

Patricia Fara is the Senior Tutor of Clare College, Cambridge. Her major research area is science in eighteenth-century England, but she also writes and lectures on women in science and scientific imagery. A regular contributor to popular and academic journals as well as radio and TV, she has published a range of books on scientific history. These include her prize-winning Science: A Four Thousand Year History (translated into nine languages), Pandora's Breeches: Women, Science and Power in the Enlightenment and a book designed for teenagers – Scientists Anonymous: Great Stories of Women in Science. She is currently writing about women, science and suffrage during World War One.

Professor Jay Mitra, University of Essex, UK

Title: STEMS of new venture creation: Women, Innovation and Opportunity Development

The stories of two STEM women, Ellen Pollack and Angie Chang, are those of women breaking through against expectations. Their narratives of isolation and biased cultural hegemonies on the one hand, and successful female scientific community networking on the other, make it possible to consider a different ontology for opportunity development by and for women. We know that the achievement of excellence in higher scientific or technological learning by women generates an unequal yield in terms of both pay, promotion and diversity in the world of work. We know less about the advances by STEM women in the high octane universe of high tech start-ups. We know that firms with the most women board directors (WBD) outperform those with the least on ROIC by 26 percent in the US. But we do not why only 30% of entrepreneurs in Europe are female. A European Commission report showed that at the European level 8.3% of patents awarded by the European Patent Office were awarded to women, that only 20.3% of businesses started with venture capital belonged to women and that women scored less than men when accessing the level of innovation of their own business. Even the arrival of the Internet appears to have flattened the world according to men only! On average across the developing world, nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions like sub-Saharan Africa. If only entrepreneurship could advance equality of opportunity, for as an APEX Women report suggests, if men and women participated equally as entrepreneurs global GDP could increase by 2% or $1.5 trillion. Perhaps the STEM stories of Victoria Ransom, Michelle Zatlyn, Kiran Mazumdar and Ylva Ryngebo, can spawn many more not just to increase the GDP but change the dynamics of growth and development

I draw together some propositions and make policy recommendations for creating a people focused, non-gendered and diversity-based framework for opportunity development for technology entrepreneurs.

Jay Mitra is Professor of Business Enterprise and Innovation at Essex Business School, University of Essex, UK. He has acted as a Scientific Adviser to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK. Jay Mitra also leads the International Entrepreneurship Forum, a unique network and forum for researchers, policy makers and business practitioners working on entrepreneurship, innovation and regional development. He has written widely on the subjects of entrepreneurship and innovation with a focus on opportunity development, female entrepreneurs, innovation and development and policy in refereed journals worldwide. His most recent book is ‘Entrepreneurship and Knowledge Exchange, (2015) which follows ‘Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Development’ (2012), both published by Routledge. He is the editor of the ‘Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Emerging Economies’.

Professor Sue V. Rosser, San Francisco State University, USA

Title: Breaking into the Lab: Engineering Progress for Women in Science & Technology

Although the overall percentage of women receiving degrees in STEM fields has increased in the U.S., the data mask wide variance among fields. Responses and interviews of over 450 current women scientists, both junior and senior, document that despite increases, many of the same issues for women in science and engineering persist today, although the obstacles or expression of experiences may differ slightly. Balancing career and family, time management, isolation, lack of camaraderie, poor mentoring, issues for dual career couples, as well as gaining credibility and respectability from colleagues and superiors in science remain as problems. Sexual harassment and gender discrimination still occur all too frequently.

Data from interviews of current scientists reveal what happens to successful women as they become senior and consider going into administration, and whether women are excluded from leading edge work in commercialization of science and technology transfer. Since the focus of scientific research globally has shifted from basic to applied research and innovation, the dearth of women receiving patents suggests a possible new 21st C. face on the old story of women’s exclusion from the leading edge of science.

Sue Rosser has served as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at San Francisco State University since August, 2009. Previously, she served for 10 years as the dean of Ivan Allen College, the liberal arts college at Georgia Institute of Technology, where she held the endowed Ivan Allen dean’s chair of Liberal Arts and Technology. She is the author of 13 books and over 130 journal articles on theoretical and applied aspects of women, science, health and technology. Rosser received her Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Professor Birgit Spinath, Heidelberg University, Germany

Motivation as a Key for Successful School-Trajectories and Careers

Although the gender gap has become smaller or even has closed in many disciplines, it is still wide in certain sciences, such as strongly math-based fields, and across all disciplines with regard to the highest-ranking job positions. Recent research shows that the reasons for gender disparities have to be searched much earlier in life than when career choices actually take place. Specifically, motivational preferences and beliefs formed at the beginning of school trajectories are very important for women’s opting in or dropping out of certain fields. This presentation starts with pinpointing the current gender gap in different disciplines. It then carves out why early motivation is more important to understand the reasons for gender disparities than many other factors. One key to get more women into math-based fields and high-ranking positions is to help female students to assess their ability realistically and to prevent their preferences from being corrupted by gender stereotypes. To substantiate this conclusion, I will draw on my own research with students in different developmental stages and connect it with recent research on women’s career tracks.

Birgit Spinath is professor of Educational Psychology at Heidelberg University, Germany. Her research interests include learning and teaching in schools and in higher education, motivation as a prerequisite for and an outcome of education, teacher education and self-regulation in the context of learning and achievement. She has been publishing her research in internationally leading journals (e.g., Child Development, Journal of Educational Psychology, Intelligence) and is on the editorial boards of several journals (e.g., Learning and Individual Differences, European Journal of Personality). Moreover, she is Associate Editor for the Journal of Educational Psychology, the European Journal of Psychology of Education and the Psychologische Rundschau, as well as Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Learning and Teaching. Dr. Spinath is currently Dean of the Faculty of Behavioral and Cultural Sciences at Heidelberg University.

Alice Pawley

Alice Pawley is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies Program and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. Prof. Pawley’s goal through her work at Purdue is to help people, including the engineering education profession, develop a vision of engineering education as more inclusive, engaged, and socially just. She runs the Feminist Research in Engineering Education (FREE, formerly RIFE, group), whose diverse projects and group members are described at She received a CAREER award in 2010 and a PECASE award in 2012 for her project researching the stories of undergraduate engineering women and men of color and white women. She has received ASEE-ERM’s best paper award for her CAREER research, and the Denice Denton Emerging Leader award from the Anita Borg Institute, both in 2013.  She was co-PI of Purdue’s ADVANCE program from 2008-2014, focusing on the underrepresentation of women in STEM faculty positions.  She helped found, fund, and grow the PEER Collaborative, a peer mentoring group of early career and recently tenured faculty and research staff primarily evaluated based on their engineering education research productivity.  She can be contacted by email at