5 Women in STEM You Should Know This International Women’s Day

You may be wondering what’s the big deal about International Women’s Day, so let’s start with the facts. Women in Geoscience are half as likely to receive excellent recommendation letters than their male colleagues. Science articles disproportionately chose men to review their articles over women. In 2013, Nature pointed out that only a fifth of full professorships are held by women.

To put it plainly, there are a lack of role models in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths sectors which equates to women in STEM not having the support and guidance to look up to someone similar to them. This then trickles down and converts into a lack of females taking these career paths which is why women in STEM should be celebrated and distinguished in the public domain.

Caroline Herschel 1750 – 1848

Caroline Herschel is probably one of the main reasons millennials are so obsessed with astrology today. She was a German astrologer whose contributions to astronomy were discovering several comets. Her brother William became the king’s astrologer and gave Caroline her own telescope, which helped her to make these discoveries. She helped him develop the modern mathematical approach to the science.

Mary Anning 1799 – 1847

Mary Anning was best known for her discoveries along the English Channel at Lyme Regis. Here she made important findings along the Jurassic marine fossil beds and collected and traded fossils. The Natural History Museum has crowned Anning ‘the greatest fossil hunter’, due to the extraordinary findings she made throughout her lifetime.

Maria Mitchell 1818 – 1889

Maria Mitchell was also an astronomer. However, she later went on to open her own school for girls and taught them science and maths. She was also the first female astronomy professor in the USA which was revolutionary for her time.

Mae Jemison 1956 – Present

Mae Jemison was the first black woman to travel in space. On September 12, 1992, she flew into space on the Shuttle Endeavour for mission STS-47. She conducted lots of research throughout her career and was responsible for studies in motion sickness, weightlessness and bone cell formation.  She is still alive today and has created the Jemison Group that is an innovation center that uses research and development for daily life.

Temple Grandin 1947- Present

Temple Grandin is a professor, best-selling author, inventor and an activist and spokesperson for autism. She is particularly renowned for her work within the humane treatment of animals when they are led to slaughter. She has spent her life developing stress-free facility designs and standards of humane management. She realised that cattle couldn’t go down steps so instead they went down a cleated ramp to the abattoir and found that when cattle get nervous they walk in circles so designed pens to be circular.

Other learning resources:


STEMETTES Twitter: https://twitter.com/Stemettes

BeyondCuri: https://www.beyondcurie.com/

Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo2819

Women in STEM | Ada Lovelace

Innovation is a word that gets thrown around the media a lot lately. Did you know that Britain is actually a country of innovators? With International Women’s Day just around the corner we thought we’d take a look into the past and remember one of our favorite females in STEM.

Ada Lovelace was an 1840’s woman. She was a revolutionary from a good family who was lucky to be taken as seriously as she was in her time. She used this platform to inspire women and young girls across the globe into going into science, technology, engineering and mathematical jobs. She was the first STEM pioneer.

Enchantress of numbers

She was a brilliant mathematician which in her lifetime would have been out of the ordinary but she was allowed privileges that would have been declined to most women living in the same era.

Lovelace is widely recognised for being the world’s first computer programmer. She wrote the world’s first machine algorithm for an early computer that existed only on paper in theory. This computer was dreamt up by  Charles Babbage and called the ‘difference engine’ and it was designed to produce mathematical tables automatically and error-free. Babbage could not create the algorithm, but Lovelace could and so the two worked well together as a strategic partnership.

Lovelace was well ahead of her time. She predicted that machines would be able to manipulate anything – not just numbers.

Due to financial hardship and personal set backs the difference engine wasn’t built during Babbage or Lovelace’s life time. However when the machine was finally built from the original plans in 2000 it worked.

If research and development tax credits were around then, just think what Lovelace could have achieved, she continues to inspire girls and women all around the globe to pursue careers in STEM.

If you have a great idea that might solve a problem for a community/ person and includes expenditure on research and development get in touch and see how we can support you.

Is thermal ‘Melt Mat’ the answer to problems caused by snow

Snow is one of the most reflective substances that mother nature gifts us with which means that when it falls it is extremely hard to clear- even when the temperature is above freezing. We see it all over Twitter and news channels The Met Office published Amber warnings and, this March, even Red warnings for those affected by the hazardous conditions left by the weather.

Work places close, meetings get postponed and our way of 21st century living becomes extremely difficult to carry on with heaps of the white stuff left on the roads and pavements. However, now it seems there is an answer to our snow – related problems.


A group of engineering students from Virginia Tech have found a solution called ‘The melt mat’. In simple terms the melt mat accelerates the process of melting the snow when placed on top of snow banks. It’s made up of a thin sheet of aluminium sprayed with a flat black spray paint. Black and aluminium being conductors and absorbing of the sun.

Jonathan Boreyko, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics and the team’s faculty advisor said,“Generally, snow reflects about three-quarters of the sun’s radiation back into the air, so it’s actually really hard for the sun to melt a snowbank,”.

(Credit Virginia Tech)

The prototype ‘melt mat’ has been tested in a controlled experimental condition and melting times have been accelerated by 300%! Let’s hope that when the product is developed and available it will be just as effective on users drives and walk ways.

By investing in research and development the team were able to solve a problem that many of us face on a day to day basis. If you have a problem in mind that you think you can solve, make sure you get in touch to claim back on your research and development efforts. The incentives are all there and support can be claimed.

The Industrial Strategy ‘Investing in R&D to transform the UK economy’

As the Brexit date is fast approaching with no news on a post- Brexit deal yet, one thing that is certain is that once we have parted ways with the European Union the government will have research and development tax relief at the core of their new industrial strategy, released late last year.

In order to raise the standard of living in England, “our businesses need to revolutionise productivity in all sectors from construction and agriculture to manufacturing not forgetting the creative industries”- read the strategy.

Research and development has been offered as one of the main solutions to the problems released in 2017’s Autumn budget and the government have vowed that they will be ‘investing in R&D to transform our economy’. Considering that the proportion of the wealth that the UK spends on R&D has been stagnant for 15 years this is encouraging for businesses that perhaps wouldn’t have usually ventured out into spending on research and development finally getting the incentives and re-assurance that they need.

In the Industrial Strategy the government commit to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP investment in R&D by 2027 and to reach 3 per cent of GDP in the longer term, placing the UK in the top quartile of OECD countries. As a first step the government has already increased the rate of relief for large companies from 11% to 12%. It will also invest an additional £2.3bn over what was previously planned in 2021/22, raising total public investment in R&D to approximately £12.5bn in that year alone. Meaning that institutes who already practice research and development and innovation clusters of some of the worlds most talented engineers will have more scope to solve problems the everyday person suffers with, or maybe make the next breakthrough discovery in medicine.

Break the stigma surrounding R&D tax relief

The strategy doesn’t just focus on large corporations either, it details how smaller companies and SMEs have not been forgotten, stating that in this segment of businesses there is a need for a different approach when creating exposure around the scheme. SME’s beliefs around research and development tax credits need to be altered. There is a stigma that comes along with making an R&D tax claim which is putting off smaller businesses with getting involved. There are over 5.5 million small businesses across the country which give the UK, ‘extraordinary vibrancy and resilience’, in the chancellor’s own words, and it would be a shame for the UK to miss out on their engineering abilities and problem-solving skills because of lack of funding.

If you know a business or business owner who is carrying out research and development but is wary about the complexity of the R&D Tax Claim show them this article or get in touch here. There is lots of funding to be claimed back out there and the engineering possibilities are extraordinary when we all work together.