Campaign to tweet selfies naming favourite female scientists goes global

22 February 2016

An IOP social media campaign persuaded hundreds of people around the world to tweet pictures of themselves naming their favourite female scientist on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February.

IOP fellow Professor Jim Al-Khalili

The IOP posted a tweet providing a template poster stamped with the UN and IOP logos, and the words “Today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. My favourite female scientist is...”. It invited people to add the name of their favourite, photograph themselves holding the poster, and tweet the picture to the IOP as well as pinning it up in their workplace or classroom.

The IOP also encouraged people to feature the hashtag #WomenInSTEM in their tweets, and by mid-morning of that day, #WomenInSTEM was the top trending topic in the UK and was also top trending in the US for a time. By the end of the day, tweets from the IOP’s own account alone had amassed 357,244 impressions, so the campaign will have reached millions of people worldwide.

The IOP tweeted and retweeted more than 135 people holding up signs on the Institute account, and there were hundreds more that did not include the IOP’s tag but who tweeted pictures, while almost 80,000 tweets were posted during the day using the hashtag. Accounts from organisations such as NASA, the Johnson Space Centre, Amnesty International and the White House were all using the hashtag to join the discussion                          

IOP fellow Professor Jim Al-Khalili was among those from the UK lending their support. His photo named nuclear physicist Lisa Meitner as his favourite female scientist.

IGB project officer Rebecca Peacock and other members of the IOP’s girls in physics team thought up the campaign. The IOP’s media officer, Philippa Skett, said: “We saw so many people get involved by sharing their favourite female scientists, and hopefully the campaign was a catalyst for discussions in schools, colleges and elsewhere about the incredible, inspirational work women scientists have done and continue to do every day.

“The campaign was also an international affair, with one tweeter based in Nigeria sharing with us who their favourite researcher was. We think it was a great, positive way to get more people thinking and talking about the work women do in science and perhaps to think more about those women that aren’t as well known as the usual big names that crop up during these sorts of campaigns.”