To celebrate International Women and Girls in Science Day, we connected with four inspiring women, Heather, Emma, Diana, and Ashleigh, who are making remarkable strides in IT sustainability at our sister company, Bioscope. These dynamic individuals are currently engaged in cutting-edge projects focused on efficiently extracting valuable metals from printed circuit boards using innovative biotechnology.
Ashleigh, driven by her passion for sustainability and emerging technologies, recently joined the Bioscope team as a Senior Analytical Chemist. Her journey into the world of science began in college, where she pursued an A level in chemistry and later achieved a master’s in chemistry.
Emma, who harboured a love for science since her school days, pursued her interest by doing a bio-medical science course at college. Encountering a job opportunity at n2s during an apprenticeship talk by the Royal Society of Chemistry, Emma has spent two and a half years at n2s/Bioscope and is currently working towards her level 6 qualification with the University of Kent.
Reflecting on their experiences, the girls shared the challenges they have faced on their career journeys. Heather, who started working in science in 1971, recounted her barriers to education, such as being denied university due to financial constraints and facing discouragement from peers in seeking funding.
“I was told by a chief chemist that I couldn’t pursue funding because I would leave and have children. It was thought at the time that women were not worth investing in”.Heather Ledingham, Lab Technician, Bioscope
Addressing gender disparities, Heather further highlighted the historical gender pay gap in science, where male counterparts received more funding and higher pay despite equivalent experience. While acknowledging progress, they stressed the prevailing male dominance in leadership roles, discouraging career advancement for women.
The ladies collectively called for more apprenticeship opportunities in science to provide practical on-the-job experience as an alternative to the traditional university route. Emma, who chose not to pursue a university degree, expressed feeling a lack of respect in her career because of this, emphasising the need for diverse pathways into the field.
Diana’s unique journey saw her transition from an IT resales technician at n2s to a career in science after being given the opportunity to join the research and development team at Bioscope. Diana was offered a level 4 lab technician apprenticeship facilitated by the Royal Society of Chemistry and West Suffolk College and is now proudly an analytical chemist.
In encouraging future scientists, the women emphasised the importance of self-motivation and passion. They suggested exploring opportunities through the Royal Society of Chemistry and attending college and university open days as excellent ways to delve into the world of science.
As Emma aptly puts it, “If you are a self-motivated and passionate person, you can do anything.” On International Women and Girls in Science Day, marked every year on the 11th of February, we celebrate women for their invaluable contributions to the scientific community, paving the way for future generations of women in STEM.
Bioscope Technologies is accelerating biotechnology innovation and the rapid recovery of critical raw materials. Bioleaching uses naturally occurring bacteria to oxidise and recover precious and rare earth metals from redundant printed circuit boards. Traditional methods of recovering materials from e-waste involve heat and toxic chemicals but bioleaching is completely non-toxic and sustainable, uses innovative mechanical separation techniques and is carried out at room temperature. The Bioscope solution has redefined the tech cycle to be the most secure, sustainable way to realise a true environmental net zero.