Institute for Sustainability

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Remembering women in science and music

Can you name ten female scientists? Or ten female composers? This proves to be a difficult task for many.

The project Forgetting to Remember, funded by the British Academy and in collaboration with Electric Voice Theatre, teamed up six female scientists with six female composers to explore the role of women in science. It used a co-production based approach, resulting in an interactive public event that reflected on the role that women have and to play in science and music.

Dr Lynsay Blake, one of the collaborators and scientists participating in the project, and Research Coordinator in the Institute for Sustainability said:

“Not only did Forgetting to Remember succeed in facilitating a unique collaboration between women scientists and composers, but it provides guidance for further research and engagement projects in this exciting area. It is also topical as the UN Sustainable Development Goals are, in part, focused on gender equality. This project has made me think about my research from a different perspective, and think about how we can encourage females to stay engaged with STEM subjects".

The project hosted a workshop introducing concepts in science and music to participants enabling them to share experiences and work together on collaborative ideas. Scientists and musicians were then paired together for a period of two months to co-produce an interactive representation of science/music practice, which was accessible to the general public, and specifically to school children ages 5 -16. 

Dr Paul Fleet, School of Art and Cultures, Principal Investigator of the project said:

"Forgetting to Remember is a prime example of how the arts can inform science, and how science can inform the arts.  Many of us are all too aware of the focus on STEM in primary and secondary education when we know that the Arts can be scientific and that Science can be creative.

One of the key messages from the event was that there should be no career narrowing beliefs in the minds of those pupils going through the education system; they should feel able to be empowered, enriched, and to engage in the value of interdisciplinarity. The role of women in science showcased these benefits of co-creation, the value of cross-faculty collaboration at Newcastle University, and created such a positive energy that ultimately manifest itself in the production of 'STEAM' (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics)".   

This event took place at the SAGE Gateshead, where five hot desk based ‘labs were set up’: the Kidney lab, the Public Health lab, Waste lab, Family lab, and Mythanogen lab, where participants, scientists and musicians worked together to explore different areas of science and creative practice. Woven into the day was interaction with an actress portraying female, philosopher and writer, Margaret Cavendish.

Professor Eileen Kaner, Institute of Health & Society, one of the collaborators and scientists participating in the project said:

"It was great to explore new, interactive ways of communicating about science that was accessible to young children, adolescents and members of the general public. In particular, the use of rhythm and sound repetition was really helpful in conveying the principles and methods of Public Health science in a way that was informative and fun for all attendees".

The team aspires to engage in further research activity and engagement projects which explore the topic of gender equality, women in science and music, linking to the STEM agenda within education.

Media outputs from the project:


Music meets science in these engaging tracks that explore the history of women in science and contemporary research. Brought to life through original music by artists and interviews with women scientists.

forgetting to remember

published on: 18 January 2017