Glasgow City Councillor and regional list selection candidate Soryia Siddique says the city’s past and future are underpinned by science.
Glasgow is a city which has led the world in science. Innovation in science fuelled the engine of our city’s growth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Science is everywhere in today’s world and part of our everyday lives, from cooking, recycling and gardening to using a computer, and impacting fields such as medicine, communication and entertainment. Scientific knowledge can improve the quality of life at many levels.
What scientists did in Glasgow was integral in changing the whole world. What scientists are now doing in Glasgow, academia and industry continues to radiate across the globe. From engineering to the life sciences, outer space to the inner world of quantum physics, Glasgow has a renowned history of scientific endeavour to draw upon.
Despite all the stereotyping which goes on in the media, some of expectations that frequently start at birth, as we ponder the gender science gap, the fashion choice for more and more women is the lab coat. Despite all the pressures to remain at the stove, more and more women can be found gazing down a microscope or up at the stars through a telescope.
Globally, however, UNESCO data shows that women’s representation in science remains low, though it varies by country, sector and field.
It’s pleasing to note that Dame Jocelyn Burnell has recently been elected as the first female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in its 230 year history. Professor Lesley Yellowlees was also elected as the first female President of the Royal Society of Chemistry last year. She thereby occupies the seat once held by Professor Brown of Edinburgh, who refused point blank to lecture female students in the subject.
That would tell you that we’re making progress, but it’s slow and there’s much more we can do to engage with girls and women. In that light, I’m proud that Glasgow City Council has given a clear commitment to encouraging our young people to opt for science subjects at school. I was also pleased to launch the city’s first Green Jobs Fair.
We hear from the engineering and utilities sectors that they are experiencing skills shortages. As we hear reports that worsening shortage of skills may hinder businesses from taking advantage of economic recovery, we have an opportunity through the sciences to help people get well-paid and satisfying jobs that go unfilled because of skills shortage.
We commemorated James Watt year, wanting to develop more of our budding James Watts to drive Glasgow’s economy and innovate for the future. And yes, we also want more Jane Watts to do just the same.
But a significant challenge remains in overcoming the traditionally low participation of women in the science sectors. I was therefore delighted to receive cross-party support for my motion at full council to work with key partners, including the Scottish Government, to develop a strategy which will:
- encourage more girls to opt for science subjects at school and subsequently in further and higher education;
- promote science related careers for woman across the city; and
- challenge existing assumptions on gender relation to the sciences.
So let us look back with pride on our city’s scientific heritage and let us look forward with confidence in our future. May all Glaswegians – girls and boys, women and men – contribute to that future. Science is integral to our world. People make Glasgow. Together that’s a winning combination.