On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has celebrated Elsie Inglis and her contribution to science.
Elsie Inglis is best known for founding the Scottish Women's Hospitals, being a medical pioneer and a champion of women’s rights. Through her fundraising activities, she set up 14 hospitals and raised enormous sums for female doctors, nurses, orderlies and drivers serving on the WWI frontlines.
Dr Inglis’ remarkable contributions to the city of Edinburgh include campaigning for women’s voting rights as secretary of the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage and as a doctor dedicating her career to helping women and babies in the poorest part of the city. She died in 1917 after leading Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service in Serbia.
As Mr Cole-Hamilton expressed his gratitude for Dr Inglis’ efforts, he reiterated his calls for a statue to commemorate her successes and urged City of Edinburgh Council to provide the necessary to add, what would be just the third female statue to the city’s collection.
Mr Cole-Hamilton also recognised that there is still a great gender disparity in STEM subjects. According to data produced by the Unesco Institute Statistics (UIS), less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“Elsie made a huge contribution to the war effort in WW1, to Scottish medicine as a whole, the city of Edinburgh and to women’s equality.
“She recognised that women were not getting adequate care and did not have enough specialists available, so she rolled up her sleeves, joined the political fight, and created practical solutions. She is truly an inspirational figure.
"Sadly since the closure of the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital in the late eighties there has been no permanent memorial to this historic woman. That's why I am urging Edinburgh council to move ahead with plans for a statue on the Royal Mile at the heart of our capital.
“On this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science I hope every girl reads Elsie’s story. There is still a great gender disparity in STEM subjects, and the glass ceilings in professional fields are still present. Elsie’s story should serve as a reminder that through hard work, passion and dedication everyone can succeed in their dream job.”