Increase in research grants for women highlighted at annual Women in Vision event

17 December 18

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More than sixty leading female researchers came together in Liverpool on Friday [14 December] for the second annual ‘Women in Vision’ conference.

Women in Vision, which launched in London last year, aims to promote connections between women working in all fields related to vision, to support collaboration and mentoring, and increase female profile in the sector. The network includes scientists and eye health professionals.

Speaking at the conference, Michele Acton, Chief Executive of Fight for Sight said:

“We support Women in Vision because it’s essential that we harness all the talent possible in the fight against sight loss. Around 40% of our current grant-holders are female, and that’s an increase from 33% last year, but there is further to go and we’re investing in the future too: 60% of recent Fight for Sight PhD students are female.”

“Women in Vision is a superb initiative and we are proud to be a part of it. What happens today is so important for the future of eye research,” she said.

The conference also heard from Fight for Sight Patron Fiona Hathorn, who’s also Managing Director of Women on Boards UK, a leading network for women seeking leadership roles in the not-for-profit, private, government and public sectors, who said:

“The glass ceiling exists in every sector and industry, and eye health and medical research are no exception. We have to ask why so many women graduate with degrees in optometry and ophthalmology but so few reach senior academic or research positions.”

Urging women to start thinking about joining a board early in their career, Ms Hathorn said: “We all have brilliant skills and abilities to bring to a board, and it doesn’t have to be linked to our profession. Women on Boards helps and supports women in making the transition to the boardroom, from developing a board resumé to interview skills.”

Dr Maryse Bailly, a founding member of Women in Vision and Associate Professor in Cell Biology at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in London, said: “Women in Vision has grown since we launched a year ago and we now have more than 270 members across the country. We know from our recent survey that women are not being invited to speak or present at conferences as often as their male colleagues, and together we can raise the profile of women in our field.”

Women in Vision is coordinated from University College London with support from Fight for Sight, which leads Women in Vision’s efforts to promote women speakers at conferences and events. The next Women in Vision conference takes place in Belfast in December 2019.

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