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Professor Helen Atkinson announced as one of the UK's outstanding women

Professor Helen Atkinson of the Department of Engineering.

Professor Helen Atkinson announced as one of the UK's outstanding women

Professor Helen Atkinson has been named as one of the UKRC’s Women of Outstanding Achievement 2010, for her Leadership and Inspiration within Science, Engineering and Technology (SET)

Issued on 19 March 2010

Celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, the Women of Outstanding Achievement (WoOA) exhibition, led by the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET, showcases some of the UK’s most inspiring women currently working across the SET sectors. The focus is on women who achieve outstanding results within their chosen fields, and the exhibition acts as a showcase to inspire other women to progress a career within SET.

Helen Atkinson, Professor of Engineering and Head of Mechanics of Materials Research Group at the University of Leicester, has been announced as one of six women recognised this year. In honour of her achievements, her portrait will be unveiled as part of an exclusive exhibition launched at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 18th March 2010.

The first of her family to go to University, Helen developed an interest in science from an early age and has gone on to establish an outstanding record of achievement in industrially relevant research in the area of metals technology and manufacture. She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and has proved to be a true inspiration and role model to her students in the UK and overseas. She is currently leading the £15 m redevelopment of the Percy Gee Students’ Union building at the University of Leicester.

Annette Williams, Director of the UKRC, comments: “The continued encouragement of women to return to, or establish a new career in SET is vital to ensure that the UK carries on producing world class scientists, mathematicians and engineers. All six of this year’s Women of Outstanding Achievement are fantastic role models for women working across all sectors of SET and demonstrate that it is possible to have a high achieving career balanced with a fulfilling personal life.

Annette adds: “We are constantly looking to promote women working in SET, to ensure that their voices are heard and that they are given equal opportunities throughout their careers. The exhibition forms part of a legacy that will inspire, engage and encourage women of all ages to consider a career in SET as well as recognising the outstanding role models currently working in these fields.”

Helen Atkinson sums up what it means to her to be named a Woman of Outstanding Achievement: “When I started my career 30 years ago, it was difficult to progress within SET, especially if you worked part time as I decided to do whilst working at Sheffield University, to enable me to start a family. My career path goes to show that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. I have been particularly lucky to have travelled the world and have been able to encourage women from different communities to develop their careers in SET, to think ambitiously and realise their true potential “



The 2010 Women of Outstanding Achievement are as follows:

Leadership & Inspiration

Professor Dame Julia Stretton Higgins, former Principal of the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College London and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the Royal Society. Julia has had an exceptional career, with outstanding contributions to both engineering and science. Through her pioneering research Julia has become a world leader in the field of polymer science and technology

Professor Helen Atkinson, Professor of Engineering and Head of Mechanics of Materials Research Group at the University of Leicester, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineering


Professor Amanda Fisher is the Director of Medical Research Council’s Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith Hospital, which forms part of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London. She is also Professor and Head of the Institute of Clinical Sciences at Imperial College.

Doctor Helen Mason holds an academic post in the Department of Applied Mathematics (DAMTP) and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge and currently leads the Sun│trek project ( about the Sun and its effect on the Earth. She is also the Senior Tutor at her college St Edmunds.

Discovery & Innovation

Jacqueline Hunter, Senior Vice President and Head, Science Environment Development, GlaxoSmithKline, has an outstanding record of innovation in pharmaceutical research after deciding early on in her career that her work would focus directly on human health. Throughout her career, Jackie always championed new approaches such as being the first in the industry to implement new screening technologies like the Morris Water Maze, or successfully testing a new therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Sarah Baillie is the inventor of one of the most significant devices in veterinary education in the last 50 years. Following a 20 year career as a practising vet, Sarah re-trained in computing science and worked towards addressing an industry-wide challenge in the veterinary sector with the invention of the Haptic Cow.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Vicki Murphy or Catherine Webber

Tel: 0113 201 8260

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Notes to Editor:

The UKRC for Women in SET

Established in 2004 to support the Government's ten-year strategy for Science and Innovation, the UKRC works to improve the participation and position of women in SET across industry, academia and public services in the UK. Funded by the BIS, it provides advice and consultancy on gender equality to employers in industry and academia, professional institutes, education and Research Councils. The UKRC also helps women entering into and progressing within SET careers, through advice and support at all career stages, training, mentoring and networking opportunities.


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