The UK is to encourage mothers to return to their scientific careers with a new training scheme. The UK's Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, announced at the British Association's science festival that Coventry University will train and help women with degrees in science, engineering and technology to re-enter their chosen field after leaving to have children. 'Women have a vital role to play across the sciences in the UK and we need to reverse the trend of mothers not returning to jobs in their chosen academic field,' said Ms Hewitt. 'With women making up almost half the workforce, professional equality is not just a worthy principle anymore, it is a matter of economic necessity,' she added. It is estimated that around 50,000 female graduates in science, engineering and technology are not working at any one time, and of those that do return to work, only 8,000 will get a job in a field that makes use of their university education. Ms Hewitt also announced new prize intended to raise the profile of women studying science and technology. The 30,000 GBP (around 48,000 euro) Rosalind Franklin award will be awarded for scientific innovation. The prize money should be used for activities such as establishing a women's mentoring scheme, writing a book to inspire women in science, engineering and technology, organising a lecture tour where women scientists promote themselves as a role models or writing articles raising the profile of women in these fields. 'I hope that this competition will inspire and encourage other women to pursue fulfilling careers in scientific research and development,' said Ms Hewitt.