Women in science – Iolanthe Rodman

Posted Monday 14 April 2014

A new feature on the Kingston alumni site – each week we bring you a profile of a Kingston alumna who has contributed greatly to the field of science.

This week we find out about Iolanthe Rodman, who graduated in 1995 with an Applied Biology BSc(Hons). She is currently the Assistant Head of Science Faculty at Broomfield School in Enfield.

How did you first become interested in science?

My mum is a nurse and I always had a huge interest in biology, particularly human biology. I would have loved to be a paediatrician but I'm quite lazy when it comes to studying!

What did you do after leaving Kingston?

I looked into research posts but the pay was very low, so I worked at British Gas in customer services. A friend who had thought about teaching and decided it wasn't for her suggested I might be good at it. I decided to give it a go, as if I ever wanted to travel it would be useful. I did my PGCE at Sussex University.

What's it like being a woman in a scientific workplace?

To be honest, being a woman hasn't made any difference.

How can society encourage more women into science?

Shows like The Big Bang Theory have helped in general, but it still seems to portray the women's interest as lowly compared to the men. Making the school curriculum more interesting may help, and going back to separating biology, physics and chemistry would stop people being put off by having to do, say, physics –  I hated physics at school myself, and it would have put me off studying science any further.

Can you tell us any quirky or amusing experiences from your career?

There have been a few – generally to do with students who should think before speaking!

Have you had a career break and if so, how easy was it to get back in?

I haven't had one, unless you count maternity leave and it was no problem – I even got a promotion at a new school while five months' pregnant with my first child.

Would you encourage your children to follow a career in science and technology and do you think scientific talent is based on nature or nurture?

I'd definitely encourage them, but then I'm biased as I find all science – yes, even physics now –  fascinating! My eldest, aged 10, already shows a natural flair and interest in science without any pushing from me, so maybe it is innate. My younger two are obsessed with capturing insects, so there is definitely some evidence to suggest nature rather than nurture.

How well paid is a science career?

I'm sure it can be very well paid, depending on what route you take and how dedicated you are.

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