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Science Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves

Sexism in science is nothing new. Several studies have shown in recent years that women are still underrepresented in science faculties. 

And when women do climb the ladder in science, a BBC News report says, they may find they're the only women in rooms full of men

In order to provide them with some support, Edinburgh University Crum Brown chair of chemistry Professor Polly Arnold has set up the Sci Sisters network. 

"As you rise to these senior levels you do look around and realise that you are quite often the sole female in a room full of men - and very often it would be nice to have another female face there," Professor Lesley Yellowlees tells BBC News. (Yellowlees was the first female president of the Royal Society of Chemistry from 2012 to 2014.)

Arnold tells the BBC that the goal of Sci Sisters is to overcome that kind of isolation and provide women with mentorship, advice, or just someone to talk to about workplace issues.

The network's website contains an online map marked with virtual pins, and each pin represents a senior Scottish scientist or engineer who has volunteered to support her colleagues, BBC News says. Arnold is receiving funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry to help set it up.

"If you were a chemist and only looking for chemists, I did the calculation and you would have to travel 38km to find the next senior chemist," she tells BBC News. "This way, I can go have a cup of coffee with another chemist or another physicist or somebody in business and somebody who's not quite in my area - and maybe we can discuss the issues that we have."