Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Role Models

Carol Vivien Robinson

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Professor Carol Vivien Robinson


Carol has not just broken new ground in her field of scientific research; she has developed an entire new area of research. While doing that, she has maintained a very warm human side and has not succumbed to pressure to become as masculine as the world in which she has become successful.

Carol has achieved her goals through intelligence and determination rather than privilege. She left school with little formal qualification and gained both A-levels and her degree studying part-time while working as a mass spectrometry (MS) technician in industry.

After her PhD, which she completed in two years, Carol took eight years out to raise her three children. Her family has remained paramount to her. During her time on a career break there were many innovations in the field of mass spectrometry but this did not faze her on her return, rather she immediately realised their potential.

She returned to science as a technician for the chemistry MS service at Oxford University, but soon negotiated research time on the mass spectrometer to indulge in her own “eccentric research”. Based on this, she then built her own research group, soon becoming a professor. She has since become the first female professor in chemistry at Cambridge University and became a fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 46.

Carol is a great supporter of the many female members of her research group, encouraging them to fulfill their ambitions and giving advice and guidance along the way. She is very positive about providing the flexibility necessary to raise a family for the parents in her group.

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