An interview with Radleys’ Katherine Wickham

As we move through this year, we’re looking to the future. There’s no doubt that there’s been a push in recent months for more female students to take up STEM subjects at university, but just when will the science community start to see the effects? Well, sooner than you might think!

We’ve launched our Inspiring Women in Science series – a selection of interviews shining a light on some of the brilliant women who are working in science today! They’ll be sharing their experiences and some words of wisdom for the up-and-coming generation of scientists.

Our first interview is with our very own Katherine Wickham, a Technical Support Specialist here at Radleys. Check out what she had to say below:

Tell us a little about your current role at Radleys.

KW: I contribute to both Technical Support and R&D (Research and Development). Technical Support involves answering questions and solving problems for anyone who has contact with our products, including our colleagues, our network of international distributors and of course the people using our products in their science. R&D focuses on the development of both our existing and potential new products so that we can continue to innovate and improve.

I’ve been very lucky in that this job is the first job following my PhD. It’s great because no two days are the same – you never know what problem you will face next, whether that’s a Technical Support enquiry or an obstacle with an R&D project!


Whereabouts did you study?

KW: I did both my integrated Masters in Chemistry and my PhD, which I am just finishing, at the University of Nottingham. I studied for a year at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec during my undergraduate degree.

When did you first know you wanted to pursue a career in science?

KW: I’ve always enjoyed science and maths, so when it came to choosing what to study I think I was quite lucky in that I just chose the subject that I enjoyed the most. I think the decision to continue to work in science came at university; I saw lots of my friends settle for careers outside of science but I didn’t want to lose touch with chemistry and my enthusiasm that went along with it.

What inspires you in the workplace?

KW: I am inspired by the scale of the business and expertise in a relatively small company. I think particularly because I grew up locally, it’s both surprising and impressive that just around the corner from the museum and park where I used to spend some of my school holidays is a scientific manufacturing company that deals with distributors and customers worldwide.

I think it’s also pretty inspirational Radleys has retained a small business feel while being very successful. I have found that my voice, knowledge and ideas are respected and listened to and I don’t think you get that with all companies, scientific or otherwise.

How do you feel the landscape will change for women in science over the next 5 years?

KW: I think it’s already changed a lot and it is only improving for women in all areas of science, engineering and maths. More women are going into science and continuing in science, with greater rates of women choosing STEM subjects at degree level and opting into further study.

Over the next 5 years, I hope we will start to see all of these bright young women filter up into bigger roles in academia, industry and popular science. I’m hoping the next Brian Cox is a young woman with a passion for chemistry!

What advice would you give to young people who are considering a career in science?

KW: Ask questions and take your time. I think that young people can feel rushed into a career and decisions that will continue to affect them throughout their lives, so taking a while with those choices is important.

If you are considering science, try getting in contact with scientists and industries you find interesting to get more of a feel for what they do and how they got there. Scientists have a bad reputation for not being sociable, but I promise that a lot of us can talk your ear off about the science we do and enjoy