Here at CK, we have always been New Scientist magazine enthusiasts and last year we were very excited to hear that a new editor had been appointed. As it turned out, it was not just any new editor but the first female editor, who incidentally has a background in chemistry: Emily Wilson.
One year on, CK Senior Key Account Executive Natasha Young, a keen devotee and promoter of women in science, really wanted to interview Emily to hear what changes she had made at the New Scientist, her thoughts on being the first female editor and who has inspired her in her career.
Natasha recently had the opportunity to interview a very modest Emily Wilson, and learned from her what a big responsibility it is not to screw things up, how Bill Gates is the most extraordinary inspirational person of all and how having a degree in chemistry has brought her so many opportunities throughout her career…
Natasha: Congratulations on your new job as the very first female editor of the New Scientist since its inception in 1956. How do you feel about this new role and the expectations that might come with it?
Emily: I’m really excited, and feel very privileged. With an old and beloved brand like New Scientist, it’s also a big responsibility – i.e. not to screw things up.
Natasha: Considering you have been with the Guardian since 2000, what motivated you to take the role with the New Scientist? Was it something you have always been interested in?
Emily: I was interested in working for a small company with a fantastic product – but also with room for so, so much growth and evolution. New Scientist has barely begun to explore the opportunities that lie before it both digitally and globally, and also in terms of live events.
Natasha: You have a background in science. What made you do a degree in Chemistry and how did you get into journalism?
Emily: I did chemistry because I was an idiot at 18 and had no imagination, so I ended up picking one of my A-levels. I think I’d have had a lot more fun doing something like archaeology. But that said, having a degree in chemistry has brought me so many opportunities throughout my career.
Natasha: The perception is that the worlds of both science and journalism have been quite male dominated. In your career have you ever encountered challenges because of this?
Emily: Well over the years I’ve been in many, many news meetings where I’m the only woman – and also the only person who seems to notice when that’s the case. On the super-rare occasion when you have a meeting and it’s all women and one man, the room tends to discuss little else? But one-woman-in-a-big-meeting remains pretty common in journalism generally. At New Scientist diversity is something we take seriously at all levels – from who we employ to who we put in our magazine.
Natasha: With the current under representation of women in STEM, do you plan to encourage more women to consider a career in STEM through the New Scientist?
Emily: I don’t see my role as being some kind of pusher of science or science educations. What I think I can do is make my magazine (and website, and social media channels of course) welcoming to people of all colours, genders, brain types, stripes. If it then inspires them to do science – fabulous.
Natasha: We are thrilled to have you as the Editor of New Scientist and feel that you will be an inspiration to many. What are your feelings on being thought of as an inspirational woman?
Emily: I don’t think anyone outside my newsroom has heard of me, so I think that’s not quite the case. But hurrah for other inspirational women.
Natasha: What new features can we look forward to reading in the New Scientist with you at the helm?
Emily: We just tweaked the design actually, adding in more faces, more warmth, more accessibility (in my view) but keeping all the older features too, so fingers crossed the magazine has a fresher feel now, but nothing has been lost.
Natasha: And one last question – is there any one person who has inspired you from the science and technology sector?
Emily: No one person, no. But in this line of work you meet people who are completely extraordinary, and the most extraordinary of all I would say is Bill Gates. Any time you read about some excellent initiative to improve world health – you’ll find his fingerprints on it. That’s pretty amazing.
CK Science will be taking part in the Careers Pavilion at the New Scientist Live event in October 2019. We will be offering careers advice and you will be able to get one-on-one career tips.