The event saw the formal presentation of the inaugural Julia Higgins Medal and certificates, which recognise individuals and departments that have made a significant contribution to the support of academic women at the College.
Named in honour of first female Dean of the City and Guilds College and the first female Principal of the Faculty of Engineering, Professor Dame Julia Higgins FRS, FREng, the medal was awarded to Professor Lesley Cohen of the Department of Physics in recognition of her work in supporting colleagues.
Professor Cohen said: “It’s marvellous to receive this award, I’ll wear it proudly! It’s particularly nice given it’s named after such a special person.”
“I think Imperial always wants to recruit the very best, and that means recruiting from the widest pool of talent possible. That’s why support like this is so important, and why we need to keep on working to improve.”
The Department of Chemistry and the National Heart and Lung Institute received Julia Higgins certificates in recognition of their own work.
The evening was also an opportunity to celebrate Imperial’s successes in the Athena Swan Awards over the past year, which include a Gold Award for the Department of Chemistry, and a Silver award for the College as a whole.
Imperial’s Provost James Stirling thanked colleagues for their efforts and paid tribute to Professor Dot Griffiths’ contributions as the Chair of the College’s Academic Opportunities Committee.
He added: “People ask me frequently what my perceptions of Imperial before joining were, and how these have changed since. One thing I never fully appreciated in advance was the strength of commitment to supporting women in science. It has been incredibly gratifying to witness first-hand. There is more to be done but it is very fitting to pause and celebrate the hard work and achievements of our colleagues in this area tonight.”
Written by: John-Paul Jones