Professor Athene Donald, Department of Physics, University of Cambridge and Master of Churchill College
We like to divide the world into two whenever possible: male versus female, arts versus science. Such binary divisions are very unhelpful and may hold progress back in academic research as much as in society. As a physicist, should I only work with other physicists? (No.) Should I only work with other scientists? (No, at least not necessarily.) As a woman how is my approach to my research and my research team different from a man’s? Or is it different at all and should it be? Fundamentally, what academia should be seeking and pushing for is a world where such labels are irrelevant. I will discuss these issues, starting with the situation for women in physics, where I can speak from personal experience, but widening the debate to cover interdisciplinarity and gender issues more broadly. For the future we need to stop trying to label each colleague and move forward.