Soapbox Science Ten Year Report

The year 2020 marked an important milestone for Soapbox Science; it was the project’s tenth year and a time to reflect on a decade of engaging with the public on the streets.

To mark this occasion we created a report, to collate all of the statistics and some of the stories from the many Soapbox Science events that have taken place.

The report is available to read here:

Foreword from Soapbox Science Co-founders Nathalie Pettorelli and Seirian Sumner

When we created Soapbox Science, we wanted to demonstrate that there was a need, and a niche, for public outreach platforms that challenge stereotypes about what sort of person a scientist is and what it means to be a scientist. We believed then, and still believe now, that the paucity of senior women and non-binary scientists in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM), especially at top position levels, is unacceptable in a progressive 21st century world. Public engagement activities are often viewed as an unnecessary demand on a scientist’s time. Yet these activities have the potential to make a difference in a scientist’s career, by raising their profile and widening the reach of their work. Importantly, they can raise the visibility of under-represented groups, thereby providing accessible, visible role models for the next generations of scientists.

Since 2011, Soapbox Science has grown from one event in London to dozens of events worldwide, and has involved thousands of speakers, volunteers and organisers. With this report, we hope to showcase some of the key achievements of Soapbox Science by discussing its growth, reach, and impact on speakers and audiences.

Nothing would have been possible without the support and help of the communities we aim to serve. We would therefore like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of the amazing people who make Soapbox Science possible. Firstly, to our Local Organising Teams for volunteering their time and working tirelessly to bring events and the spirit of Soapbox Science to their cities; to our speakers for coming up with engaging, fun and inspiring presentations and for having the guts to stand on boxes in crowded streets; to our volunteers for making sure events run smoothly and everyone has a good time; to our funders and supporters for making the events possible; and to our audiences for choosing to stop when they see us in their local streets and heckling our scientists with brilliant questions.

We finally would like to thank our Soapbox Science coordinator, Isla Watton, for her dedication to making this initiative a global success. Isla joined us in 2016, and has overseen the rapid expansion of Soapbox Science, developing processes and tools that enabled us to reach new continents and new audiences. Isla’s artistic background proved invaluable for strengthening our communication strategy and science communication training approach. Soapbox Science could not have a better person in charge.

Nathalie & Seirian

Soapbox Science Co-founders

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