First female UK chief scientific adviser appointed

A writer reports on the appointment of the UK's first female chief scientific officer and what this means for women in STEM

Elizabeth Green
13th March 2023
Image credit: Unsplash
Professor Dame Angela McLean has been appointed as the UK’s first female Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and is set to take over the role from Sir Patrick Vallance on 1st April. The GCSA is responsible for offering independent scientific advice to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Members alongside advising the government on science and technology policy. The role also includes advising the government to improve the use of scientific evidence in decision-making.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dame Angela played an essential part in advising the government

McClean is a Professor of Mathematical Biology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on using mathematical modelling to improve our knowledge of evolution and the spread of infectious agents. She is well equipped for the job having held the post of Chief Scientific Adviser for the Ministry of Defence since September 2019. A role in which she is principally responsible for directing research through the Ministry’s core Science and Technology research portfolio.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dame Angela played an essential part in advising the government. She was often present at SAGE meetings and co-chaired the subgroup of SAGE responsible for advising the government using epidemiology, data analysis and mathematical modelling.

Having women in such positions show younger generations that it is a path they too can take

Seeing women in top STEM jobs like this is of crucial importance. Michelle Donelan, the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology said, “Dame Angela is well respected across the science community, and I hope this appointment will inspire more women and young girls to see STEM subjects as an exciting career choice.” Having women in such positions show younger generations that it is a path they too can take. The appointment of Dame Angela as GCSA shows that the inequalities in the STEM industry can be overcome and will hopefully help to increase gender diversity in STEM.

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