The 100-year anniversary of Women in Engineering and Sciences in the UK was celebrated throughout 2019. Despite the recognised need for diversification in STEM-related roles, statistics show that only 12% of professional engineers, 21% of all academic professors and 20% of the UK water sector’s workforce identify as women. This under-representation of women has resulted in a loss of talent within these sectors, with diversity recognised as being crucial for a more holistic approach in research, especially when providing solutions that aim to serve societies. However, change is on the horizon, and there is a need to continue to raise the profile of ‘women in water’ and encourage women to aspire to exciting careers within academia and industry.

Aim of the conference

This conference is open to both men and women attendees working to support women in engineering and STEM. The event will provide a platform for female early career researchers and young water professionals to promote their work and research, thereby encouraging careers within the water sector and increasing the visibility of women working within these areas.


The programme includes keynote speeches, two plenary sessions for presentations, posters to highlight leading work, and a conclusive discussion panel to debate the progress in gender equality in the water sector.

Our inspirational, highly successful ‘Women in Water’ keynote speakers are Professor Elise Cartmell and Lila Thompson, who will discuss their projects and career development in industry and academia within science and engineering.

Prof. Elise Cartmell  


Elise Cartmell is the Chief Scientist at Scottish Water,
responsible for sampling, laboratory and scientific services and for
research and innovation.

Elise joined Scottish Water in April 2016 following a career in academia
at Cranfield University, where she was Professor of Water Technology
and Director of Environmental Technology. Here she specialised in wastewater
treatment with particular reference to trace contaminants and anaerobic processes.

Elise is a chemist with a BSc (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh and
PhD from Imperial College, London. Prior to joining Cranfield in 2000 she
was a research scientist at WRc plc. She is a fellow of the Royal Society
of Edinburgh and Royal Society of Chemistry and is on the Board of UKWIR

 lila thompson


Lila is the Chief Executive of British Water, a dynamic trade association with
a varied membership of companies covering all sectors of the water and wastewater
industry. British Water works to bring a coherent voice on behalf of the industry and
ensure its members have access to information and contacts that they need to
enhance their business development and best practices.

Lila was formerly responsible for the delivery of British Water’s international services
which included leading scoping and business development visits to a wide range of
markets including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Morocco, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, China
and India to help companies grow their business overseas.

Lila has a BSc (Hons) from Birkbeck, University of London in Economics & Social Policy
and a Diploma in International Trade. Lila has over 20 years of international experience
supporting business growth, policy development and stakeholder engagement
in a variety of industry sectors.

Technical presentations

  • From geomorphology to archaeology: disentangling river changes over different timescales, Kim Vercruysse
  • Exploring approaches to adaptive pathways applied in flooding and coastal erosion risk management, Leonie Constantine
  • Delving into the future of drinking water: chemical-free drinking water treatment and distribution experimentations, Natalie Lamb
  • Transforming slow sand filtration for drinking water supply, Tolulope Elemo 
  • Rooting out resilience, Elizabeth Lawson
  • The route map to net zero carbon emissions for the UK water sector by 2030, Ellie Russell

Poster session with online comments and voting

Career presentations

  • Keeping your head above water!, Jo Cullen
  • More than just a Technical Analyst – a Yorkshire Water perspective, Anne Newton
  • Women’s leadership in WASH: do we understand the barriers in developing countries?, Ameerah Anathallee

Panel discussion

Chair: Professor Ana Soares, Cranfield University


  • Lila Thompson, British Water
  • Professor Elise Cartmell, Scottish Water
  • Dr Raffaella Villa, De Montfort University, Leicester 
  • Professor Bruce Jefferson, Cranfield University


If you would like to submit a poster for this event please complete the abstract form and return to ECWW@cranfield.ac.uk by 31 December 2020.

Who should attend

  • Young water professionals
  • Early career researchers in water
  • MSc students
  • PhD students
  • Members of the water science/engineering community

Sponsorship opportunities

To help to fund the conference, a collection of attractive sponsorship packages are available for organisations who wish to support this initiative. All sponsors will be acknowledged during the conference and listed on relevant communications.

Conference organising committee

Olivia Berzal de Frutos
Samuela Guida
Natalia Jawiarczyk
Andrea Momblanch
Rachel Whitton
Tania Rice
Dolores Rey Vicario 


Delegates: £15