As a female scientist, I was invited to talk about my field of research — cosmology — at the Iranian Women’s Association, IWA, on Thursday October 8th. IWA is a member of the ‘Federation of International Women’s Associations in London’ (FIWAL), which was formed in 1986 to provide a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and expertise. IWA launched a new series ‘IWA Inspires’, with the aim of inspiring women to pursue their careers in all fields such as Business, Science, Engineering, and so on. Women are at the forefront of advances in many scientific and non-scientific disciplines, even though their driving role may be invisible. As a female scientist pursuing my own goals, I would like to strongly highlight the critical importance of participation of women in science. Hence I was happy to be the first speaker of the ‘IWA Inspires’ series and to promote the vital importance of the contribution of women to our future and our society.
Although I had an idea of what I wanted to speak about, the story was not totally formulated in my head. Everything seemed equally important and interesting but I was only given one hour! Finally, I decided that a talk about the history of the Universe would be the most appropriate given my non-scientist audience. Next challenge was to turn my technical language to a non-technical one! But the question was to what degree! I had an audience with a range of different backgrounds, with little or no involvement in science for some time. I decided to try a few slides on a non-scientist friend and see how engaged she was. I was terrified to find out that many things that seem natural to me seemed to have no meanings to others — I mean I had to explain what a “proton” is! Oh dear!
If you want to understand the level of difficulty, please watch this video where the 2015 Nobel Prize co-winner in physics, Professor Arthur McDonald, is trying to explain his discovery that earned him the prize: https://www.facebook.com/22Minutes/videos/10153182897783339/?pnref=story.
Despite this challenge, during the talk the audience seemed very engaged, which gave me more enthusiasm to talk passionately about cosmology. After the talk I was surrounded by people to answer questions. The talk was later described as “mind-blowing” and now I am invited to talk at the BIMA (British Iranian Medical Association) and Rustam school. So, I think it was a successful talk :)