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  • Rupa Ahluwalia

Do you know a woman in science?

I asked this question to my local community, and I got such a huge response that it made me realise the why behind what I do! My role as a science educator and communicator is to get the science out there to those who need it in their next stage of life academically but also to inspire those that may not have thought about it in the first place.

This blog is designed to be a flavour of what future women in science may turn their hand to and give them some inspiration to consider a role within the scientific community (be it locally, nationally or worldwide). I hope you find as much joy reading as I did creating this piece on what inspired these awesome women to get into their fields and why they think learning science from a young age is so important. Enjoy!

Laura Bailey

“I have always wanted to be a midwife, from primary school days I knew I wanted to look after babies, when I went to secondary school I looked into this further and during a PSHE lesson we were completing a quiz to see what careers would suit our personality. Midwives came up. When I looked into this more, I realised it was something that would really interest me. I knew science would be a very big part of going into the nursing profession and midwifery wouldn’t be any different. Double science GCSE and Biology in my A levels and this took me into college where again biology played a very important part of getting me into university.

Band 6 Community Midwife

Then once starting university basic biology was covered and then it turned into a deep understanding of how the human body works and how pregnancy and labour can impact it. I do my job because I love it and I work hard to give my daughters a good role model, and I hope one day they will consider a profession where they can make a difference too. ”

Scientific advisor for UK health Security Agency

Sandhya Anantharaman

“ I have always been curious about human life and genetics ever since I was young and that was the reason for me to get into science. Also, I owe a big chunk of my interest to all the lovely science teachers I have had in school.

I have over 10 years of experience in PCR and molecular Biology and when the pandemic hit I really wanted to be a part of the pandemic response. That was the inspiration for me to take up my current role. I have been involved with the pandemic response since May 2020 one role led into the other and I landed on to my current role.”

A girl with brown hair, white jacket and blue gloves handling laboratory equipment.
PhD Student at Cardiff University School of Biosciences

Emily O’Rourke

“As a child I always had a fascination with animals and nature, and being fortunate enough to live in the countryside I spent hours exploring the undergrowth and the local river. At school I enjoyed sciences and while exploring university courses I found zoology. This course had a placement year, for which I joined the team of a field centre and it was here I discovered my enjoyment for teaching and so I completed a PGCE.

I thoroughly enjoyed my career in the school setting, but knew I wanted to pursue a roll in education outside of the classroom, this led me to start my PhD. I work for Cardiff University Otter Project, we collect otters found dead and I use their livers to determine which chemicals have entered into, and are accumulating in, their bodies. The otters also act as sentinels, or indicators, for the environment they are living in.”

Doctor in A&E and GP surgery

Elissa Abi Raad

“I am currently working as a Doctor in General Practice (at a GP surgery) and in Accident & Emergency at Darent Valley Hospital. I always loved Science but did not know how passionate I was about it until I got my first Microscope on Christmas when I was 8 years old. I found life more fascinating and started to look at plants and insects under my microscope for years.” Elissa is also a biologist and has worked in cancer research.

To round up my mini-interviews I asked the million-dollar question to all of these remarkable human beings…

Do you think learning science from age 6 – 11 is a good idea? If so, why?

Here is what I got back….

“Absolutely! Teaching children a basic understanding of the human body can be extremely helpful to help them understand emotions they might feel, why they get hungry and other important things. But essentially science for children this age could be lots of fun and we know children learn best when they are having fun! Children can do anything if they put their mind to it and with all the support from parents and teachers to allow them to be the best they can be.” Laura Bailey, Band 6 Community Midwife

“We are all curious, especially at a younger age. The more we are exposed to something, the more likely we are to gravitate towards it as a career. Science in general is fascinating, so it is extremely important to get girls involved and nurture that curiosity at a young age. The research has shown that when girls see women in science, they are more likely to feel confident and thrive to get into that field. Girls are also shown to be better at sciences and at decision making.” Elissa Abi Raad, Doctor in GP surgery and A&E

“Absolutely, despite some primary schools doing science activities, the children do not full appreciate it as them 'doing science'. So the first introduction they have is a set science lesson, 5 times a week on their timetable at secondary school. Children are very quick to compartmentalise lessons, i.e. they do maths for an hour, then English, then DT etc, they don't see how these are all linked together and how jobs in the future combine all skills. They are also very quick, due to pre existing ideas mainly, to decide which lessons are 'fun' and which are 'hard', science often falls in the hard category for many.”

Emily O’Rourke, PhD Student at Cardiff Uni School of Biosciences

“Having more scientists in general is very important to make this world a more sustainable and suitable place to live. Science answers a lot of basic questions and it is important for kids to learn science at primary level for them to understand life better. Science is a part of everything we do and the earlier we expose children to science the better.“ Sandhya Anantharaman, Scientific advisor for UK health Security Agency

Clearly, this is only a snapshot of the huge variety of scientific jobs out there based on me asking a very big question to a small part of the UK. So here is my challenge to you – why not ask the same question at the top of this blog post to your community. I wonder what response you’ll get?

*I had so much support for this blog – for which I am super grateful for - that I’ll be creating another follow up so watch this space*

Rupa Ahluwalia is the founder of RSA Discovery and passionate about getting young people into science. She has been offering science tutoring, consultancy and primary science workshops since opening her business in 2019.

For science tutoring she offers all three science for ages 6 – 16 and Biology to A-level.

She has recently launched group sessions for Year 5 and 6 girls and a short video for this can be found here and extra details here.

The next round of group classes begins on Tuesday 13th September. There is already interest for these classes, so to ensure your child gets a place bookings should be made by Tuesday 6th September 2022.

Bookings for all services can be made by emailing

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