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Celebrating five women leading the way at the ICR on International Women's Day

On International Women’s Day 2020, we speak to five women leading the way at the ICR on their journeys in science, their tips for others considering a career in research and the importance of diversity in research.

International Women's Day 2020 collage

In 2020, things have changed almost unrecognisably from a hundred or so years ago – with more women now enrolled in higher education than men, and a growing number going on to succeed in careers across science and research.

While things are moving in a positive direction, there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure that all women are supported at every stage of their career, and are able to make decisions that suit them and their families.

We spoke to women in a range of roles, to find out a bit more about the diverse range of careers women can choose to pursue in research – and how they have made a career in research work for them.  

Nafia Guljar

Nafia Guljar is a Scientific Officer in Dr Paul Huang’s lab at the ICR, in the Molecular and Systems Oncology Group.

Take a look to see what she had to tell us about what her role involves, and what advice she has for women and girls with an interest in STEM.


Dr Navita Somaiah

Dr Navita Somaiah is a Team Leader in Translational Breast Radiobiology. She is a clinician scientist – a trained medical doctor who also pursued a PhD in clinical oncology.

She told us a bit about what wearing these two ‘hats’ means, and some of the challenges she has faced as a woman working in cancer research.


Dr Jyoti Choudhary

Dr Jyoti Choudhary is Head of the Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility in the Division of Cancer Biology at the ICR.

She highlights the work of Sylvia Lawler, one of the first women in Britain to make her career in human genetics here at the ICR, and the role she is carrying out today in her lab to inspire scientists of the future.


Dr Olivia Rossanese

Dr Olivia Rossanese is Head of Biology in the Division of Cancer Therapeutics at the ICR.

She feels strongly about diversity in science – and why it’s so important to continue to build on the strides we have made to encourage more women into science.


Dr Becky Cook

Dr Becky Cook is Head of Research Support at the ICR, helping researchers win the funding they need to continue their world-class research.

She is a great example of the range of careers open to women in STEM, and had some great advice on finding a role that fits your skillset.


Championing women at the ICR

The ICR’s work to promote equality for women in science is led by our Athena SWAN Steering Group, which is co-chaired by our Chief Executive, Professor Paul Workman and Professor Jessica Downs, Professor of Epigenetics and Genome Stability.

The group brings together representatives from across the ICR to work together to identify practical, real-world solutions – which can make the greatest impact for our staff and students.

Last year, we celebrated the work of all our staff and students in creating an open, diverse and fully inclusive environment, with the award of an Athena SWAN Charter Silver Award for 2019–23.

The new silver award sets a springboard for our ongoing commitment to increase equality across the ICR – with its recognition of the changes we have made to structures and policies to embed an inclusive and fair working environment, and work on our wider culture through the launch of our values and initiatives such as our wellbeing programme.

We are proud of the progress we have made – and we are looking forward to continuing our work to drive equality, diversity and access to opportunities in research for all here at the ICR.


Women in Science - Awareness Days
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