Inaugural Women in Optics workshop at Photon16 focuses on Women in Industry

21 September 2016

Photon16 is the largest biannual optics and photonics conference in the UK. Held this year in Leeds it hosted, for the first time, a workshop on “Women in Optics”, open to all Photon16 attendees which was sponsored by the IOP Optical and Women in Physics groups.

The focus of the workshop was how people working in academia, and particularly PhD students, might find work in industry, and how such jobs might differ from their experience thus far

Organised as a question and answer session, this event allowed attendees to speak to three women who have been working in industry: Dr Phillipa Timmins from Princeton Instruments, Dr Susannah Heck, who also chaired, from Kaiam Corp, and Dr. Maria Serrate from Edinburgh Instruments. These women have been working for 13, 6 and less than a 1 year in industry respectively, and so had a diverse variety of experiences which they could discuss with the audience.

The session began with a brief welcome from Dr Arti Agrawal from the Optical Group, and then brief introductions from all the speakers. During the event, Phillipa, Maria and Susannah answered questions from the audience on topics that included where to find jobs; best practices in applying for industry jobs and differences between working for startups versus established companies. Over 40 people attended the event, including a number of men, making up roughly a quarter of the total, who had an interest in the subject-matter.

Refreshments were provided to help create a good environment for networking between attendees, and the speakers made themselves available both before and after the formal session for one-on-one discussions with the attendees, an opportunity a number of the attendees took advantage of.

The feedback from the event attendees was very positive and there is an aim to have a “Women in Optics” workshop at Photon18 in Aston.