London and Dublin workshops focus on women in optics and photonics

30 April 2015

A workshop to encourage women to take up careers in optics and photonics and to support those already working in the field was held at the City University London on 16 April.

women in optics

At the Women in Optics Workshop, Sally Day spoke about her research and her life as a scientist in an academic setting. Her specialist field is liquid crystal devices and applications, and she is currently a senior lecturer in the photonics group at University College London.

Rosie Cush, from Oclaro Technology Limited, also spoke about her career and her present role as a project manager for photonic integrated circuit design, and about the careers available in the optics and photonics industries.

Arti Agrawal, a representative of the IOP Optical Group, which co-sponsored the workshop with the Photonics Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), talked about activities and volunteering opportunities with the IOP and IEEE. She emphasised the personal value of volunteering for meeting new people and developing new skills.

The event was part of the programme for the 13th International Workshop on Optical Wave and Waveguide Theory and Numerical Modelling. It was aimed at undergraduates, PhD students and postdocs, and was held in part to celebrate the International Year of Light (IYOL). The chair of the UK national committee for IYOL on behalf of the IOP, Beth Taylor, said: “I was impressed by the high turnout of female early career researchers from right across the UK, and they were all keen to take advantage of the opportunity to question the speakers, whose contributions were inspirational.”

Coincidentally, on the same day an event on a similar theme, Focus on Women in Light, was held at the School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin. The speaker, Prof. Julieta Fierro from the Institute for Astronomy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, talked about the particular challenges and opportunities she had faced as a woman with a career in light.

Her lecture, “Light and shadow: an approach to astronomy in Mesoamerica” was followed by a masterclass aimed at early career researchers, postdocs and PhD students - “Shining light on women in optics: tools for success”.

The event was organised by Trinity College Dublin and sponsored by the IOP’s Women in Physics Group and Juno Committee, with co-sponsorship from Women in Technology and Science, the Mexican Embassy, Dublin, the national committee for IYOL and WiSER.