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Wine, women and a twist of science – by Cathy Sorbara

Have you ever tried wasabi with Riesling? What about biting into a slice of lemon before sipping your Chardonnay?

The Cambridge AWiSE network welcomed the New Year in delectable fashion on January 27th with a Wine Tasting with a scientific twist. Held at the Cambridge Wine Merchants on Cherry Hinton Road, Alice Archer challenged our perception of food and wine pairing as well as helping us brush up on our chemistry.

She taught us that the sensory components of food – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami — can influence the perception of flavours in the wine with which it is paired. For example, taste any wine and focus on its acidity level. Next, taste a strongly acidic food such as a lemon and afterwards re-taste the wine. The wine tastes much sweeter although the composition of the wine did not change at all. In the same respect, a wine which is particularly sweet, when paired with a sweet treat can appear more acidic. Food with high salt content, on the other hand, can magnify the perception of acidity in wine.

Our scientific background has instilled upon us that hypotheses can only be proven following rigorous testing. Therefore, we were forced to oblige Alice by sampling many delicious, high-quality wines with the large spread of cheese, charcuterie, bread, olives and sweets that were provided (and yes, even wasabi crackers and lemon wedges!).  Beginning with a sparkling Jansz Premium Rosé NV and ending with a Chateau des Tours 2008, each wine had its collection of admirers and foes. My personal favourite was the Meerlust Rubicon 2009 red wine from South Africa and I am now actively searching and stashing every 2009 South African wine that I can get a hold of.

The evening was filled with light-hearted discussion in superb company. Our sincere thanks to Alice for sharing her vast knowledge of wine interspersed with humour and mouth-watering meal pairing suggestions – you have started the 2015 Cambridge AWiSE year on a fantastic note!

Thriving in an unscripted world – by Cathy Sorbara

Clare Kerrison Improv Tutor“Don’t worry about being funny. Your ordinary is genius”

Improv tutor extraordinaire, Clare Kerrison was our special guest at this year’s winter networking event on December 9th, 2014 at the Lucy Cavendish College. In an evening filled with laughter and the occasional bell-ringing, Clare, hailing from New Zealand, empowered us to step out of our shell and enhance our communication skills using the theories of improvisational theatre. Here, performers are left on stage not knowing what will happen throughout the course of a given show. To survive and thrive, they follow one simple rule: “Yes, and …” where they learn to be present, actively listen and then contribute creatively. This rule fits exceptionally well into a workplace environment where one must learn adaptability.

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An evening with Ruth Barber: Negotiation skills workshop – by Shivi Chandna

Negotiation pic GSOn a cold wintry evening thirty women met at Cambridge AWISE headquarters to learn about negotiation skills and how its outcomes could make the difference between success and failure. The members had the opportunity to learn from the very experienced solicitor and consultant Ruth Barber. She had given a number of such workshops before to different types of audiences including undergraduates. Ruth decided to focus this session on practical tips on negotiating pay rises in the workplace.

Before starting a negotiation it is important to know what you want out of it. This want could be divided into a best possible outcome – knowing the best that you can get, the best realistic outcome – knowing what realistically you could get, and the worst realistic outcome. 
Ruth, keeping the STEM-related audience in mind, drew a graph to explain how she likes to think of these three outcomes as a tropical beach, a temperate zone and the arctic zone (brrr) where you are willing to settle for the least. Read more

CamAWiSE STEM Careers fair for girls at Netherhall School – by Emma Atkin

On 10th November 2014 members of AWiSE as well as women and men from different STEM subjects came together to give young female students an insight into their careers. The event was opened by the brilliant 2014 cover of Thomas Dolby’s 1982 hit ‘She Blinded Me With Science’ released in celebration of women in science, empowering them to reach their potential and highlighting the social challenges they face to accomplish success. However unconsciously, some young girls are pushed into believing certain subjects are ‘masculine’ or too challenging for them which has a damaging effect on those who could want to study them in the future. The evening aimed to demonstrate just how capable the girls were of going into any of the STEM subjects – providing them with inspiring female role models and an insight into what they have to offer for their future.

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CamAWiSE 20th Anniversary celebrations 2nd October 2014 – by Daisy Gooch,  PhD student and member of WISE@QMUL

“Last week Louise & I escaped our respective labs for an afternoon and hopped on the train to sunny Cambridge to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cambridge AWiSE. The Cambridge AWiSE network was set up in 1994 following the publication of ‘The Rising Tide’, a report published by the government on women in science, engineering and technology. This report documented the underrepresentation of women in STEMM fields- demonstrating that even where women predominate at undergraduate level, such as in the life sciences, they are lost at every career stage until they are a small minority. In 2004/5, only 11.5% of professors in life sciences were women, a figure which 10 years later has risen only to 15%. ‘The Rising Tide’ report noted the value of women’s networks and mutual support, and thus Cambridge AWiSE was founded to connect and inspire women in STEMM, which it has been doing ever since.

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