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Women in Science

Julia did a Physics degree and D.Phil at Oxford before going to Cornell University for two years. She returned to take up a lectureship at Southampton University before returning to Oxford with a Fellowship at St Hilda’s college. She became a university lecturer, reader and then professor.

Julia Yeomans


at the time of the interview - 2017

Julia is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013. She has four children. 


at the time of the interview -  2017

Julia has always been interested in maths and science, particularly the application of maths to real world problems. Her parents, who were both junior school teachers, encouraged her interest. After a physics degree and DPhil at Oxford, Julia went to Cornell for two years to work as a post-doc. Julia enjoyed this experience which she describes as hard work, working every evening and weekends, with a large group of diverse people.

Even when I was tiny I enjoyed, I used to read Which magazines and try and understand what the graphs meant, which is weird for an eight-year-old. But I loved doing that. I loved doing maths problems even from when I was very tiny.

After Cornell, Julia moved to a lectureship at the University of Southampton and then to a Fellowship at St Hilda’s College. Over the next fifteen years, Julia became a lecturer, reader then professor and, in 2013, she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society.

Julia and her husband, who also works as a scientist at Oxford University, have four children. She describes how returning to work part time, after having a baby, was not really an option in those days. The academic culture was also very different as the focus was very much on publishing academic papers rather than obtaining funding. The gender imbalance in theoretical physics remains, as very few women choose to follow this career. Julia thinks that initiatives like Athena Swan are making changes but theoretical physics is perceived to be a particularly demanding subject. Ethnic background/ nationality: White British.