An exhibition of photographs which show how women have contributed to the space sector is being held at the University of Leicester. It portrays women in the industry which were taken by professional female photographers from almost every continent of the globe.

The display of images depicting female scientific endeavors related to mankind’s ever expanding exploration of the Earth and space will take place from Tuesday 8 March, until Friday 18 March and is free and open to the public.

Held at the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy the exhibition will be opened by Professor Dame Julia Slingo, chief scientist at the Met Office, who will cut the ribbon and talk about her experiences as a female climate scientist during the opening ceremony.

Organiser Dr Rhaana Starling, lecturer in Physics and Astronomy, said: “The photographs show space through the eyes of women and girls, and we are thrilled to welcome distinguished scientist Professor Dame Julia Slingo to open the exhibition.”

Dr Starling said the exhibition was aimed at encouraging young women to consider space science as their future, as well as highlighting equality and diversity issues within the sector – which the project says is still under-represented by women.

The exhibition premiered in Paris last June and has been touring Europe.

Dr Starling said: “The University of Leicester plays a key role in a huge variety of international Space and Earth observation projects today and has done since the department was founded. The East Midlands membership to NEREUS, Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies, provided the opportunity for us at the University of Leicester to host the UK tour of Space Girls Space Women.

“The exhibition will be opened on International Women’s Day, spans National Science Week, and is being held whilst British astronaut Tim Peake is still up on the International Space Station.”

Also at the opening ceremony will be University of Leicester President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle, Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy Professor Paul O’Brien, President of the Royal Astronomical Society Professor Martin Barstow and Leicester City Council assistant mayor Councillor Manjula Sood.

Alongside the exhibition, the University is running a photo competition for schoolchildren and asking them to snap themselves ‘doing science’.

“The competition photos will showcase the scientific creativity of the next generation,” said Dr Starling.

The UK stage of the exhibition is additionally sponsored by the University of Leicester, the Royal Astronomical Society and the National Space Centre.

Professor Martin Barstow, University of Leicester Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Head of the College of Science and Engineering and Professor of Astrophysics and Space Science, is also the President of the Royal Astronomical Society. He said: “I am pleased that we are hosting the exhibition in Leicester, supporting our institutional support of these same goals and our participation in HeForShe.”

The HeForShe initiative is a solidarity campaign launched by the United Nations, which promotes gender equality. University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle is an IMPACT 10x10x10 champion for the UN Women’s HeForShe solidarity movement, making University of Leicester one of 10 universities around the world committing to take bold, game-changing action to achieve gender equality within and beyond their institutions. This work will be done in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Last September, the University officially announced its partnership with the scheme which aims to tackle a number of gender issues including promoting the growth of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

The Space Girls Space Women exhibition is free and open to the public.