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BWiS Wrapped: Our 2023 highlights

This year has been long and full of new and exciting things that we are so happy to have been able to share with you all. In this house we’re big fans of celebrating our wins and this post does just that.


A large group of Black women posing infront of some ornate wooden doors
Image by Empire Scheme Studios

January

We started this year strong by officially welcoming some new members to the committee team (shout out to Mbang, Success, and me!). Since then, we’ve all been working hard to provide good content and support to all the Black women in science that we come across.


On a personal note, working as part of the BWiS team this past year has been so fulfilling. I’ve been able to live out my writer dreams and I have really enjoyed being able to support you all in my own small way.


On a not-so-personal note, we are always looking for volunteers! If you would like to join the team, we would love to have you. There is no end date for our applications and applications are reviewed in batches every few months. The form can be found here.


February

In this month, we officially relaunched the BWiS Blog!


Our first post of the year was on the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on our mental health. If you missed it, you can read it here!


March

March came with our very first Brunch Talks Live! The event was held in person, in Cambridge and was very kindly hosted and sponsored by the University of Cambridge Yusuf Hamied Chemistry Department. It was wonderful to see so many amazing and inspirational Black women in the room with us. We laughed, we networked and maybe even made some new friends!


Thank you so much to everyone who attended. We hope to see you all again at the next one.


April

In April our Founder, Tomi, was awarded the BSI Diversity and Inclusion award for her work with the BWiS network. Tomi was presented this award at BSI’s annual Immunology Awards Ceremony alongside Dr Donald Palmer from the Royal Veterinary College.


In her acceptance speech, Tomi mentioned the large role that the network has in supporting her to do what she does. The BWiS Network would not work without you all and we are so happy that we have been able to find and support each other.



May

May marked the return of our podcast, hosted by Tulela. Our first guest of the year was Vivien Kintu from the Academy of Medical Sciences who spoke with us about creating spaces for minoritized groups. It was a fascinating and relevant discussion. We were grateful to be able to talk with someone so dedicated to inclusivity and showing up for those who need it most.


If you missed that episode (or any of the others), you can find the BWiS Podcast everywhere you usually listen to podcasts and on our website under the podcast tab.


June

In June we turned 5!


To celebrate our 5th anniversary, we held an in-person event that we called Thriving Together. It was wonderful to have so many of you join us at the Institute of Physics in London. We celebrated the community, our growth, and our (many) achievements over the last 5 years. We look forward to doing so much more in the coming years.


The event was kindly sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, AstraZeneca, and the Institute of Physics. If you’d like to see what we got up to, you can watch a 5-minute recap video of the event here.


Also in June, our blog writer, Success, represented the BWiS network as a panellist at the renowned Black Graduate Careers Conference hosted by Imperial College, London. She spoke about the power of networks and how they positively affect our sense of belonging in spaces where we may feel isolated.


July & August

We released some great content in these two months.


In the blog, we focused on the myths around sunscreen on Black skin. We covered why sunscreen is important and the best sunscreens to use for darker skin tones.


On the podcast, we talked about a wide range of topics, including the impact of artificial intelligence on African women, patient diversity in clinical trials, and the phenomenon of code-switching.


If you missed any of these posts, you can read or listen to them on our website.


September

In September we celebrated World Afro Day. World Afro Day is held every year on September 15th to celebrate Black women’s natural hair.


This year we celebrated by speaking with Jane Iwo, the co-founder of the Halo Collective about hair discrimination and Michelle De Leon, the CEO of World Afro Day about the concept and importance of the day. You can check out Jane and Michelle’s podcast episodes on our website or anywhere you listen to podcasts.


October

This month we had another in-person event! Our second Celebrating You event took place on October 19th with the help and support of the Academy of Medical Sciences. The focus this year was Saluting Our Sisters which matched the theme for Black History Month in the UK this year. The night was all about empowering each other and recognising our achievements.


A group of 3 Black women hugging in a room full of other Black women
Image by Empire Scheme Studios

It’s very easy to forget to celebrate your wins, especially if you think they are small. At BWiS we are big fans of making sure that everyone knows how amazing you all are. You deserve to shout about all your wins, big or small. We hope that our Celebrating You events give everyone a chance to do that. Thank you to everyone who attended this year. We hope to see you again at the next one!


November

In November we got some huge podcast news!


As part of Black History Month in October, Spotify chose to feature our podcast as a ‘Black STEM Gem’ in their Black Voices Highlight. We are huge fans of our podcast (in case you couldn’t tell by the number of times it’s been mentioned in this post) and it’s great to see that others also recognise how brilliant it is. None of this would have been possible without our wonderful listeners and guests.


In 2024 we hope to bring you more amazing content and expand our reach. If you have any ideas about what you would like to hear about on our podcast, don’t hesitate to reach out to our podcast host, Tulela, at tulela@bwisnetwork.com. Alternatively, you can fill out an anonymous feedback form which you can find here.


December & Beyond

This month is all about wrapping up the year and preparing for the next one.


As the year comes to an end we would like to take the chance to say thank you to everyone who joined us on our journey this year. Looking back at everything we’ve achieved this year has made me realise that none of the work we do is in vain. Next year we hope to have even more opportunities to meet you, whether it’s online at our monthly brunch talks or in person at a few of the exciting events we have planned.


We are so grateful for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.


Until then, happy holidays and happy new year!


By Esther Ansah, Blog Writer


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