This week, after a three-and-a-half-months of hard graft, our calendar went to print. We have Cosima Dinkel to thank for the design, photographers Ben Gilbert, Greg Funnell and Naomi Goggin for the pictures and Louise Crane our Producer (and her team of researchers, writers and production assistants) for everything else.
Above is the beautiful front cover. The back features a list of all those who have dug deep to bring the calendar to fruition, including our generous sponsors. This blog is for them.
ScienceGrrl has formed very organically, a network of like-minded people who have drawn together around the common purpose of showing the true face of female science, of demonstrating that science is for everyone and encouraging more girls and young women to explore science for themselves.
I have always felt that this movement is bigger than me and anything I may have that approximates to a good idea. That was more than proven last week, when myself, Anna Zecharia, Ellie Cosgrave and Louise Crane had our first ScienceGrrl committee meeting over wine and cheese at Louise's flat. I'd proposed an agenda but the ladies pulled my ideas back to first principles – ScienceGrrl collaborates, consults, moves forwards together.
Bearing this in mind, it is hardly surprising that we have been very careful and intentional about our sources of funding. We've had several suggestions and offers of corporate funding, but wanted to avoid this, and make it clear the network was independent and not owned by any particular business. We instead approached Universities and charitable organisations, and have so far received pledges totalling £4600 from the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol, University of Durham, Biomedical Imaging Institute at the University of Manchester, Society for Applied Microbiology, Futuremorph (part of the Science Council), University of Bristol IDC in Systems, The Ogden Trust and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
However, the largest single contribution to our funding has come from crowdfunding via Sponsume. One weekend in early September, I hacked together a home video outlining the project's aims and what our supporters would receive as rewards for donations of £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100. We optimistically asked for £3000 to cover our printing costs. Over the weeks that followed, we reminded, goaded and bribed our Twitter followers with the promise of photoshoot out-takes... and people gave, gave and gave some more until we hit 89% of our target.
So it is that we have very nearly covered our costs from donations, so almost all the proceeds from the calendar will go towards projects that encourage more girls and young women into science.
I'm deeply moved by the commitment this represents, by organisations and individuals alike, particularly in times of restricted budgets, spending cuts and household belt-tightening. It is a resounding vote of confidence in ScienceGrrl, what we are trying to do and how we are going about it. Thankyou all so much.