Trade and Industry secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced the first winner of the Rosalind Franklin award — a £30,000 prize to promote women in science.

Announced last year as part of the Wise (women in science and engineering) scheme, the awards were set up to recognise those women who have made a contribution in the typically male-dominated careers of IT, science and engineering.

The winner, professor of chemistry at London's Kings College and mother of two Susan Gibson, plans to use the money to bring a group of female chemists from around the world to UK universities to promote careers in chemistry to female undergraduates.

"Research shows that only 33 percent of women with science, engineering or technology qualifications choose to work in a related job," said Hewitt. "This is not good enough."

The award, funded by the DTI and run by the Royal Society, is named after Rosalind Franklin whose work contributed to discovery of DNA.

"This announcement proved to be a wakeup call to the community to celebrate the many excellent women working in science, engineering and technology," said Dame Julia Higgins, Vice President of the Royal Society and Chair of the Rosalind Franklin Award committee.

"We believe we have a truly outstanding winner of the first Rosalind Franklin Award and look forward to being able to celebrate the work of more women in future years."